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Fear of Arab-Americans in the public square

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Demonstration at Brooklyn College last November for talk on Israeli apartheid, photo by Laurie Arbeiter

Demonstration at Brooklyn College last November for talk on Israeli apartheid, photo by Salahuddin Azad

Many people have expressed fear about the growing BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement on campus. Some Jewish students have said that it makes them feel unsafe. A Jewish professor at the University of Michigan said that a “third intifada” may be upon us. Several mainstream writers picked up my report on a tense debate at Vassar over boycott, stressing the fear factor in the room.

Fear has become the byword, and today Frank Bruni in the New York Times seeks to justify the fear by saying that critics of Israel on campus are just anti-Semites: “[Some] college campuses in recent years have been theaters of anti-Israel discussions that occasionally veer toward, or bleed into, condemnations of Jews…[T]here’s still bigotry under the surface. There are still caricatures that won’t die.”

I believe these fears are overblown, and reflect a different fear entirely: the fear of Muslims daring to participate in American public life.

I watched most of the six-hour divestment debate at the University of Michigan and was struck by the cultural politics: the young Muslim and Arab students were very forthright about speaking as aggrieved Muslims and Arabs. Many women wore hijabs.

These young people are not conducting themselves in the same way their parents and grandparents did. They are not trying to keep their heads down like John Sununu (74), working quietly in the sciences, or even like dragon-slayer Ralph Nader (80), who didn’t lead with his Arab-American background (when I interviewed him many years ago for Vanity Fair, he was reluctant to get into the Israel-Palestine conflict; he had other fish to fry).

No, these students feel they have a right to speak out as Arab-Americans, and their anger about the U.S. global treatment of Arabs is at the front of their minds and gives tremendous force to the things they say. Many of the Arab students at Michigan read off long lists of names of family members in Palestine, from ages 2 on up– a lot of Arab names.

I too found that disorienting, just as I was thrown by the vehemence at Vassar. But the disorientation is a sign that this is an important cultural transformation. In fact, these young Arabs and Muslims are a lot like radical Jews who played such an important role in the anti-Vietnam-war movement. As Mark Rudd, the Students for a Democratic Society leader at Columbia in 1968, later wrote, most of the SDS members on that campus were Jewish. And they were out in a way their forbears weren’t. Rudd’s father changed his name from Rudnitsky to Rudd so that he could get ahead in the US army.

Mark Rudd felt more secure than his father; but drew on a sense of Jewish exceptionalism.

This particular empire [the U.S.] is neither the first nor the last to attempt to seduce us [as Jews] to join up. But we’d better not: it’s our job to be critical outsiders, both for our own survival and for that of the planet.

Rudd identified the military industrial complex with goyim and anti-semitism:

What outraged me and my comrades so much about Columbia, along with its hypocrisy, was the air of genteel civility. Or should I say gentile? Despite the presence of so many Jews in the faculty and among the students—geographical distribution in the admissions process had not been effective at filtering us out, our SAT’s and class-rank being so high—the place was dripping with goyishness. When I got there freshmen still wore blue blazers and ties and drank sherry at afternoon socials with the deans. At the top of the Columbia heap sat President Grayson Kirk and Vice-President David Truman, two consummate liberal WASP’s who privately claimed to oppose the war but maintained the institution’s support of it.

Rudd’s ethnic resentment was shared by conservatives. Norman Podhoretz said English departments didn’t see Jews as fit to be professors of Melville and Browning. Saul Bellow said that a “genteel dictatorship” of WASPs just wanted to stuff Jews and put them in a museum. Alan Dershowitz threatened to quit Harvard law school unless it named a Jewish dean. And neoconservatives emerged out of a resentment at Jewish exclusion (Jacob Heilbrunn has written).

Those Jewish voices scared the bejesus out of the established order. Just as the political engagement of Arab-Americans is scary for the established order today.

One reason this encounter is hard for Jews is we don’t like to think of ourselves as Establishment types. Hey, we’re the critical outsiders, just as Rudd said. So Jewish social identity is at stake; I think we have to come to terms with our power, as a central component of the Establishment, from the Supreme Court to the Fed. Just look at reports in the Israeli press on the power of Jewish donors, or John Judis’s book on Truman’s abandonment of his opposition to a Jewish stateZionists have had access for decades. And if the SDS types could throw the Vietnam war at the foot of the WASP establishment, you can throw some of the Iraq responsibility at the feet of rightwing Zionists in the U.S. establishment– the neoconservatives, who got remarkably little criticism from liberal Zionists.

During the last Establishment failure, I can tell you that my wife and many other WASPs were ashamed of their caste. As a young person, she felt her tribe was responsible for countless ills, from anti-Semitism to the Vietnam War. Her neighbor the sociologist E. Digby Baltzell wrote an important book calling on the Protestant clubs and boardrooms to open themselves up to talented young Jews. They did. Harvard named several Jewish deans to the law school, and a Jewish president too. Joseph Epstein wrote that the WASP establishment put up a white flag without a shot being fired.

Today, the Arab and Muslim students are part of a wider social revolution that includes many progressive Jews and is demanding real diversity in the Establishment. We see it in the First Family, we see it in the New York mayor’s family, we see it on NPR, where a new anchor, a woman of color, Audie Cornish, has brought in a perspective from black people I’ve never heard there before.

But if Obama and Bill de Blasio think you can diversify the Establishment without changing the politics of the special relationship with Israel (and continuing to suck up to AIPAC), they’ve got another think coming.

That’s the rage we’re seeing on college campuses. They want change on the issue that so affects them: America’s unbalanced policy in the Middle East. They are enraged at an Establishment that has helped kill at least 288,000 Muslims, and at Zionism in a way that will make earlier criticisms of Zionism inside the American discourse seem detached, wan or narcissistic. They are determined to bring a critique to the place it has always belonged, the American public square.

Palestine Solidarity Legal Support says these young people’s free speech is being repressed around the country. As they speak louder and undertake civil disobedience, some of these young Arabs and Muslims may end up paying a personal price for their activism. (Mark Rudd paid for the Columbia occupation with the end of his college days and future in the Establishment. He’s led a very worthy life of service as a teacher. His Columbia colleague Bob Feldman gave up his college degree and has also led a very worthy life, as a writer. So did my boyhood neighbor, Dick Cluster, gone from Harvard– writer and translator.)

So that’s what is so fearful. These young people are demanding their place as Americans in American public life. The U.S. will never be the same for it. No, we’ll be better.

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54 Responses

  1. Krauss
    Krauss on April 15, 2014, 3:42 pm

    Perfect to a tee.

    You’ve got everything right, as well as the Jewish angle. The Jewish identity, based on ethnic resentment vs WASPs(who so many of us seem to marry these days, try untying that Freudian knot).

    The critical outsider has turned into the defensive insider, just like the WASPs of the 60s and 70s. As you note, this clashes fundamentally with a lot of people’s core identity. Mark Rudd’s writing basically sums it up quite perfectly.

    This dated fixation of WASPs is actually less of a resentment these days, the notion of WASP/Jewish rivalry is completly outdated, at least to my generation. Its primary function is to provide a comfort blanket against the fact that we must face: we’re the establishment now. We have arrived.

    Without the WASP bogeyman, who else is there?

    It leads to the conclusion: we are now primarily fightning people who are non-white, who are less wealthy, less powerful and less privileged than we. They don’t have the same kind of elite access we have to the major institutions in America.

    We’ve become the new WASPs. And we are struggling, like they were, at keeping out the newcomers from entering our discussions. Back then Vietnam. Today, Iraq, Palestine.

    • Krauss
      Krauss on April 15, 2014, 3:57 pm

      P.S. Part of the reason why I think it has become okay to write about Sheldon Adelson is that he functions as a pressure cooker for liberal Jews in the elite media who have a conception of themselves as liberals but somehow keep ending up accusing pro-BDS people of anti-Semitism and being nervous about giving muslims/Arabs their voice in the elite media.

      By focusing on Adelson, they are basically performing the same ritual of trying to blame everything that Israel has done on the Likud, with the magic number of 1967 as the baseline(ignoring the Nakba, of course, and the previous colonization).

      Adelson in this case becomes the scapegoat, a safe target to channel your anxieties, by telling yourself you and your friends are different. He’s the crazed loon.
      And its true, he is a very, very easy target.

      Adelson doesn’t make Obama fearful because of attack ads.
      But it is much easier to target him, instead of looking at Pritzker, Crown, Saban and the others and their role in pushing Obama and all other democratic candidates far to the right on Israel/Palestine.

      Because you can maintain the illusion that you’re different. That all that is happening in crazy town. Its not you. You’re the good liberal. Who donates to the colonial JNF, supports muslim-bashing ADL, and refuses to give up on the 2SS, because that would force you to choose what was always a false choice: A state primarily for one race or a genuine democracy, for all.

      No, lets not deal with any of that. Its all Adelson’s fault. Just like its all Likud’s fault.
      And anyone who disagrees is an anti-Semite. I read it in the NYT, so it must be true.

      • philweiss
        philweiss on April 15, 2014, 4:06 pm

        Pressure cooker or valve?

      • Krauss
        Krauss on April 15, 2014, 4:08 pm

        Pressure cooker.

        Because at some level these people are aware of what they are doing, which builds up even more anxiety as the self-defrauding continues when their world is slowly being teared apart.

        Surely we are different! Right? Right?

        Definitely pressure cooker.

      • ritzl
        ritzl on April 15, 2014, 4:47 pm

        I’d say pressure cooker in the intra-Jewish sense. Valve in the societal sense.

        God only knows where those two forces meet and resolve.

        Hopefully at a good/constructive place.

      • pabelmont
        pabelmont on April 15, 2014, 5:17 pm

        Kraus:

        Not sure I’ve got the argument. Yes, the Zios on campus claim to find themselves in a climate of fear. What is the “fear” that they claim to be newly and unpleasantly enveloped in?

        [1] The claimed fear might be wholly illusory (that is, a lie); [2] it might be the fear of the Liberal Zionist who finds his position as such untenable both internally (conscience) and externally (cannot explain his stand to others); [3A] it might be a fear of the loss of power of pro-Isaelism, a power-position until recently which is now threatened by BDS; [3B] it might be a fear of walking among decent people and knowing or fearing what they think of you because of your deliberate association with Israel; [3C] it might be fear of antisemitism, because these folks have been taught that outrage at Israel is a form of antisemitism.

        Has anyone ever asked these folks what they are suddenly fearful of? Someone should. Might get several different answers. Be interesting.

        But I cannot for a moment believe that the “fear” they claim to live in (due to BDS) is fear of being “outed” as fraudulent “outsiders”, and the Jews of conscience on campus are not claiming to have become fearful due to BDS unless it be fearful of anti-BDS authoity — they have joined hands with BDSniks including Arabs and Muslims. The Loyal Hillelniks are “fearful” (if at all, because it sure sounds like crying wolf to me) of being recognized for closet KKK-niks (if price-tag and IDF and Border Police are like KKK) and this fear is very uncomfortable.

        Now, of course, I hope that Jews who’ve for so long been comfortable wrapped in the flag of Liberal Zionism will open their eyes and lose the scales. But they are faced with regaining conscience at a big cost — admitting to and rejecting, perhaps in public, previous membership of a KKK-type. to say nothing of affronting their as-yet-unreconstructed friends (some of my best friends .. . . ).

        So maybe there is fear of losing preeminence in the USA, but I doubt it.

        The fear as I see it is a fear of being outed as being current-KKK-types, as BDS paints Israel and LZs have not yet dropped their defense of Israel.

      • puppies
        puppies on April 15, 2014, 7:03 pm

        @Krauss – All that weighing of immaterial wisps… If anyone has solid evidence that any “fears” are credible fears of **material damage, let them bring them and have it judged properly. Otherwise, the little 8888s should just shut the fluff up. Enough already with all these “feelings”.

      • hophmi
        hophmi on April 16, 2014, 7:43 pm

        How is Obama “far to the right on Israel/Palestine?”

    • Citizen
      Citizen on April 15, 2014, 4:06 pm

      @ Krauss
      Really?
      The two biggest ethnic white groups in the USA are German and Irish. The vast majority of them are working to mid-middle class. They are not new WASPs, nor are they Jews. They also don’t fall into the established minority group. How do you fit them into your map?

    • on April 15, 2014, 4:35 pm

      There is a huge difference between the WASPs who ruled and our current rulers, the Jewish elite.

      The WASPs did not imagine themselves eternal victims. Hence, while as ignorant and thoughtless as any elites, they never sunk to the level of petty vindictiveness that the current elites display.

      I am no historian but I suspect that at no other time in human history was a society run by a group of people who managed to view themselves as the victims of the society they ruled. A special twist to the general nastiness of any elites

    • bilal a
      bilal a on April 15, 2014, 8:51 pm

      The WASPs , whatever their faults, comprised 70%+ ? of the population. Their rule was majority rule based on demographics, not based on one dollar, one vote.

      This is a fundamental difference between WASPs and the new establishment.

      The current situation is not democratic, it is based upon financial corruption and ethnic exclusion, with denigration of the majority population’s values and aspirations.

      It will not stand.

  2. Reds
    Reds on April 15, 2014, 3:59 pm

    I got a kick how Frank Bruni described Ayaab Hirsi Ali “A celebrated advocate from Muslim women” then goes on to say “But when some professors and students complained, citing statements of hers that seemed to broadly derisive of Islam”.

    Any taker as to why he didn’t quote such statements by Hirsi?

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka on April 15, 2014, 4:24 pm

      “Any taker as to why he didn’t quote such statements by Hirsi?”

      LOL. Whenever you come across a description which characterizes a perception, rather than the thing itself, check the primary source.

      • ritzl
        ritzl on April 15, 2014, 4:49 pm

        @WT- Brilliant. Words to live by, especially in the internet age.

    • Donald
      Donald on April 15, 2014, 4:57 pm

      I was too disgusted to get a kick of it, but yeah, when Hirsi Ali says we should make war on Islam–all of it–and says we should shut down Muslim schools in the US, yes, that does “seem” broadly derisive of Islam. Change it to Jewish schools and Judaism and I wonder if Bruni would see the problem.

      I also got a kick out of how he thinks anti-semitism is so much worse a problem in the US than Islamophobia, based on the hate crime statistics. Supposing those were complete, it never crosses his mind that a great many Americans are supportive of torture precisely because it is Muslims who are tortured. Or that our foreign policy, which has killed hundreds of thousands of Muslims, is fueled in part by Islamophobia. Or that our support for Israel no matter what it does is fueled by a combination of Islamophobia and an eager willingness of people like Bruni to fling the “anti-semitism” charge at anyone who thinks Palestinians should have rights equal to those of Israeli Jews.

      Antisemitic violence in the US is the product of a handful of extremists. Anti-Muslim violence by America is baked into our foreign policy. Bruni is a clueless liberal bigot.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka on April 15, 2014, 5:17 pm

        “I also got a kick out of how he thinks anti-semitism is so much worse a problem in the US than Islamophobia, based on the hate crime statistics.”

        And that’s troubling, given the fact that those hate-crime statistics are almost certainly faulty, owing to a rate of anti-religious hate-crime reporting in Nassau and Suffolk Counties and in New York City that is literally too high to be normal. (For example, the rates of anti-religious reporting in those two counties and the city of NY as a whole is equal to about 2/3 of the all the reported anti-religious hate crimes reported for the rest of the entirety of the USA.)

        Anyone who takes these figures on their face is crazy. Basing policy on them is nuts.

    • Mike_Konrad
      Mike_Konrad on April 15, 2014, 4:57 pm

      @ Krauss
      Really?
      The two biggest ethnic white groups in the USA are German and Irish. The vast majority of them are working to mid-middle class. They are not new WASPs, nor are they Jews. They also don’t fall into the established minority group. How do you fit them into your map?

      WASP is a fluid term.

      Only the South, and Western Massachussets are truly primarily WASP. Alabama and the Berkshires.

      Eastern Massachussets is heavily Irish/Italian.

      Half the Southern WASPs are really Scots-Irish and hence part-Gaelic, which explains the fiddle music and their moonshining.

      The American heartland is now German-American mostly (including much of Texas)

      The WASPs in America dropped below 50% around 1910, and then their numbers overall plummetted. What they set up was the culture. This decline is not noticed because many white ethnics are very similar outwardly to the observer.

      • Citizen
        Citizen on April 16, 2014, 8:44 am

        @ Mike_Konrad

        So how do they fit into the map of yours and Krauss’s? I’m still wondering. “…many white ethnics are very similar outwardly to the observer.” Well, I’m both Irish and German, so it’s always interesting to me to know how “the observer” sees me. Some here have accused me of being anti-semitic even though I married a Jewish woman. My brother did too. One of my nieces married a black American. I don’t like the hold AIPAC has on congress. Do I, we, fit in your impression? Just asking since you are lobbing around generalities. I’m also pro-choice, ok with gay, and I paid for my own higher education. I’m also a gun owner. My own government taught me how to use one. How’s all that fit, observer?

  3. Ellen
    Ellen on April 15, 2014, 4:00 pm

    Some Jewish students have said that it makes them feel unsafe.

    And many white students felt unsafe and afraid in the 50’s and 60’s around black students who would dare speak up.

    That such students say they may feel “unsafe” says more about their own fearful pathologies when confronted with new and dissenting voices.

    • W.Jones
      W.Jones on April 15, 2014, 4:05 pm

      EXACTLY.

      I heard about a white girl who asked a white boy (he told the story) in the 1960’s who was worried if everything will be OK now with desegregation.

    • on April 15, 2014, 4:40 pm

      The Muslims are right to be afraid. Their Mosques are being spied on and infiltrated, hatred against “Islamic radicalism” is constantly being ginned up in our mainstream media and elsewhere, younger more naïve Muslims are being targeted by the FBI in fake terrorism set-ups, their right to free speech has been thrown out and comments the government does not like that show up on the inter net can result in Muslims being jailed under “material support for terrorism” laws concocted by the Zionists. The rest of us must stand up for them or they could very well end up like the communists, trade unionists, and Jews did in Nazi Germany

      • Kay24
        Kay24 on April 16, 2014, 8:04 am

        Great comment. I agree that Muslims are demonized and their religion denigrated unfairly. perhaps the millions of dollars invested on a major campaign to attack Islam, and making all Muslim look like terrorists have succeeded. There are many Islamaphobes like Geller and Wilders, who have this vicious campaign, trying desperately to put Islam in a bad light, with lies and twisted versions of verses, then there are systematic ethnic cleansing of Muslims going on in Myanmar, where thousands of Muslims are being killed, and no one seems concerned. if we do not halt the attacks against Muslims at home, it will soon ignite a fire that we will never be able to extinguish. Hatred and ignorance, and the support for a brutal occupier, ethnically cleansing, intimidating, terrorizing, confiscating of lands, water, and eventually obliterating an entire population, all connected to the campaign against Muslims.

      • hophmi
        hophmi on April 17, 2014, 11:37 am

        “their right to free speech has been thrown out and comments the government does not like that show up on the inter net can result in Muslims being jailed under “material support for terrorism” laws concocted by the Zionists. ”

        Please tell me how many Muslims have been jailed or prosecuted for “material support for terrorism” for internet comments.

        ” younger more naïve Muslims are being targeted by the FBI in fake terrorism set-ups”

        LOL. How many of those cases have there been? And what is fake about someone agreeing to help with a terrorist attack?

    • Sycamores
      Sycamores on April 15, 2014, 6:50 pm

      @Ellen,

      And many white students felt unsafe and afraid in the 50′s and 60′s around black students who would dare speak up.

      That such students say they may feel “unsafe” says more about their own fearful pathologies when confronted with new and dissenting voices.

      great post!

  4. W.Jones
    W.Jones on April 15, 2014, 4:04 pm

    Good article.

  5. ritzl
    ritzl on April 15, 2014, 4:22 pm

    A) Couldn’t agree more. This is THE point…:

    I believe these fears are overblown, and reflect a different fear entirely: the fear of Muslims daring to participate in American public life.

    A while back there was a census taken on the number of Muslims in the US. It was conducted by a Muslim org. It’s results were immediately contested by the AJC (iirc) with a counter poll showing the “Muslim” poll results to be exaggerated. My naive and unanswered question then was, who cares how many Muslims there are in the US. Aren’t we all in this together? But I have since come to realize that participation and influence are exactly the reasons this attempt at diminishment was so quickly put forward.

    The change in the “climate” that some Jewish students object to is the very same “climate” that Palestinian students live with day in, day out. Why should Palestinian PoVs be the mechanism of “fear” when Jewish PoVs are not? The Pro-Israel PoV is an omnipresent reminder that Palestinian views are (and “should be” for the foreseeable future) subordinate. Who’s going to put up with that in the US.

    B) Muslims, and particularly MENA Muslims are a big part of the future of this country and will persevere here, politically. Ironically, to some, following the very same path of organization, focus, and precedent that the organized US Jewish community has pursued over the last century.

    C) The ascendence of “Jewish power” is laudable, imo. ALL minorities rightfully aspire to it. It’s useful in political equalizing terms. But the public and overt application of that power has come to be despicable, generally, as in most cases it is used in support of an exlcusionist state, Israel, and hypocritical policies. This is the same arc that the WASP power structure eventually lost to (begrudgingly, yet rightfully), and for exactly the same reason. Exclusion is simply not a viable long-term strategy in a generally inclusive collective (i.e. the US; and we are generally and imo generically/ultimately inclusive, constitutionally, with ebbs).

    D) I predict that we’re (the US) venturing into a new era where “what’s allowed” is not necessarily going to be “what’s going to happen.” Gilded Age II, on so many connectable fronts.

    Great article. Much to ponder.

  6. seafoid
    seafoid on April 15, 2014, 4:54 pm

    “Joseph Epstein wrote that the WASP establishment put up a white flag without a shot being fired.”

    Sounds a bit over the top. Elites constantly change stance but hold onto their money. Big deal if they rented out some space to a few Hebrews. I imagine the same WASP families own a lot of those Hampton properties 50 years later.

    What Jews did with their new found influence was rather mediocre in the bigger picture. Israel is not going to make it.
    Late capitalism is prone to seizures as well.
    And climate change is coming up on the near side.

    • pabelmont
      pabelmont on April 15, 2014, 5:29 pm

      seafoid: “Daddy, daddy, anti-GW/CC activity is making me fearful, they must stop! Stop them, daddy!! Stop them!!” And when should I sell by BIG-FOSSIL stock which has been going up, what with the wonderful success of fracking — fracking the best invention since sliced bread. Making us energy-independent as well all die

      • puppies
        puppies on April 15, 2014, 7:04 pm

        What or who is gw/cc?

      • RoHa
        RoHa on April 15, 2014, 9:57 pm

        GW is global warming. CC is Climate Change. There is a popular speculation (based on computer models of the climate) that continual increase in CO2 from burning fossil fuel will lead (via a complex system of feedback mechanisms) to a continual increase in global temperature. (This is correctly referred to as Anthropogenic Global Warming, or AGW. The term “climate change” can simply mean the natural changes which are part of the natural order.)

        Actual empirical observations show that the models are wrong, and even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recognizes this now. Since an awful lot of people have made a career (and in many cases a lot of money) from this speculation, the IPCC has not yet rejected the main speculation. (Apparently the co-chairman of the IPCC does think that fracking could be a useful bridge technology.)

        On the basis of this speculation there has grown up a climate-doomsday religion which promotes hysterical alarm beyond anything the relevant science can justify. Some commenters on this site seem to have fallen for this stuff and drag it in to discussions of the I/P problem. I’m not sure why the moderators allow the topic to be introduced in the first place, but only occasionally do they allow me to respond. I would be quite happy if no mention of it were ever permitted.

      • Keith
        Keith on April 16, 2014, 10:58 am

        ROHA- “Since an awful lot of people have made a career (and in many cases a lot of money) from this speculation, the IPCC has not yet rejected the main speculation.”

        Totally lacking in empirical data to support your cultish fantasies, you inevitably fall back upon a conspiracy theory to “explain” the absence of any support whatsoever in the technical literature. The notion that increased concentrations of greenhouse gases do not result in increased absorption of solar radiation is absurd. And the global warming denier websites you undoubtedly frequent do not represent mainstream climatology. Their “empirical data” and gross misrepresentations never appear in the scientific literature. The notion that there are big bucks to be made by antagonizing the energy companies turns reality on its head, but is quite consistent with denier mentality.

        RoHa said: “I would be quite happy if no mention of it were ever permitted.”

        You would be happy if you comment hadn’t passed moderation? I hate to break it to you, but you are the one who initiated this discussion.

      • puppies
        puppies on April 17, 2014, 12:28 am

        Thanks, RoHa; all I wanted was the long name, no intention of starting a pro/anti fight where we are to discuss Palestinian rights and ways to independence, not climate etc.

      • seafoid
        seafoid on April 16, 2014, 2:00 am

        Global warming/climate change

  7. Donald
    Donald on April 15, 2014, 5:31 pm

    For anyone encouraged by the intelligence of the responses to some New York Times articles, the responses to the Bruni piece should bring you back to earth. Very few of the readers seemed to notice how he thinks protest against Israel is a form of closeted anti-semitism and some of those who do notice applaud him for making the connection.

  8. CitizenC
    CitizenC on April 15, 2014, 7:10 pm

    I believe these fears [of BDS] are overblown, and reflect a different fear entirely: the fear of Muslims daring to participate in American public life.

    I think it has little to do with young Arab-Americans acting as aggrieved Muslims and Arabs. Many women wore hijabs. (heavens!) They are mainly aggrieved, period.

    The Jewish establishment (campus branch) isn’t worried about Arabs qua Arabs, it is worried about losing control of the environment. They have no trouble “accepting” Arabs who don’t challenge them

    In fact, these young Arabs and Muslims are a lot like radical Jews who played such an important role in the anti-Vietnam-war movement.

    The “radical Jews” weren’t “being Jewish”, they were being radical. See Arthur Liebman’s classic “Jews and the Left” on the New Left. They were not enamored of “Jewish identity” at all. That is an anachronistic projection of today’s identity politics.

    The young Arab Americans aren’t mainly concerned with “identity”, they are concerned with mass murder and destruction in Palestine and the Arab world at the hands of Israel and the Zionist-influenced United States.

    This is not a clash of “identity”, it’s about politics and power.

  9. CitizenC
    CitizenC on April 15, 2014, 7:39 pm

    PS. I have read Rudd’s piece, read it when it came out in 2005. In 1968 “Jewish radicals” were making aliyah and extolling Zionism and Israel’s 67 victory as “the national liberation movement of the Jewish people”. Rudd and his cohort may have had concerns related to their Jewish backgrounds, but they did not adopt such a “Jewish” politics. The Arabs and Muslims on campus are not practicing an “Arab” or “Muslim” politics, though the issues they address concern them immediately.

  10. Sumud
    Sumud on April 15, 2014, 11:14 pm

    They are enraged at an Establishment that has helped kill at least 288,000 Muslims…

    Stephen Walt sure does lowball that figure in that FP. He says – and emphasises – that he has selected “low-end’ estimates but this is false. Walt arbitrarily nominates 100,000 “excess deaths” for the 1990s sanctions era in Iraq, and the same for the post-2003 period in Iraq.

    None of the conservative estimates for the sanctions era deaths are as low as 100,000, the lowest being 170,000 and more commonly it is around 350,000-500,000.

    Post-2003 estimates range up to more than a million people, even the very conservative Iraq Body Count estimates 174,000 for combined civilian and combatant deaths.

    Also missing from Walt’s estimates, deaths in the following countries caused by missile and drone attacks:

    – Libya
    – Pakistan
    – Yemen
    – Somalia
    – Mali

    We also don’t hear from Walt about the US role in fomenting the terrible war in Syria, admittedly an estimate of US-caused deaths would be tricky here.

    At any rate the premise, that the US has done much to garner resentment of muslims and arabs over the last three decades, is sound – but lowballing the figures is lazy and possibly vain. I don’t know about other people here at MW but when I start seeing death figure estimates go to 1 or 1.5 or 2 million I can’t help but relate it to holocaust deaths numbers…

    • RudyM
      RudyM on April 15, 2014, 11:57 pm

      Thank you. I agree that estimate is very low. From the Gulf War, through the period of sanctions on Iraq, and up to the present ongoing (drone oriented) “War on Terror” (whether they’ve retired that name or not), it looks a lot closer to 2 million. The Lancet study of Iraqi deaths resulting from the Iraq war is over 500,000, I see. I can’t say I know much about the methodology for such studies, but based on the destruction wrought upon Iraq, that seems very imaginable.

      Reading Ramsey Clark’s The Fire This Time: U.S. War Crimes in the Gulf, back in 1993 did a lot to disabuse me of my illusions regarding my government’s conduct of warfare. And the atrocities described there are all pre-9/11, of course.

      That’s a lot of cause for anger, alongside support of Israel.

    • Walid
      Walid on April 16, 2014, 1:52 am

      “I can’t help but relate it to holocaust deaths numbers…”

      You’re getting close to taboo territory there, Sumud. You’re not allowed to relate or compare anything to that event. Remember the last time you simply said that there were 6 million Palestinians; you were almost asked to go wash your mouth.

      • Sumud
        Sumud on April 16, 2014, 7:56 am

        Walid ~ Never Again!

        I’m a good student, and TV was awash with WW2 and holocaust documentaries when I was growing up. Schinder’s List at the movies etc.

        It’s not my fault zionists didn’t advertise the disclaimer (Never Again For Jews Only”), and now I’m too old to change. Or rather, I don’t want to.

        I see now the article Phil links to is 5 years old so that would account for some of the missing countries eg. Yemen, Mali. It doesn’t change the fact that Walt underestimated his numbers for the other countries, a lot. It’s kind of insulting to the dead that he couldn’t include a high as well as a low estimate. Why write a piece to explain ME anger towards the US if you’re going to play down the figures?

        I wasn’t joking about making that comparison – it’s not a rhetorical point, I really do think of that, automatically. It raise the question – and I’m guessing Walt would not like it – of just what is acceptable? Is 25% of a holocaust OK? Or just 20% High estimates for the Vietnam War are nearly 4 million – so 65% of a holocaust, is that OK? Is it cumulative?

        I don’t think Walt – who claims to be a FP realist – is doing his American readers any favours by glossing over the terrible thing his country is responsible for.

  11. seafoid
    seafoid on April 16, 2014, 8:55 am

    I think BDS worries bots because it has the potential to reduce the Zionist influence in public affairs. Zionists get a lot of bang for their demographic buck and this is not a long term given.
    Most of the media mouths who currently shill for Israel could easily be replaced by more up to date people.

  12. marc b.
    marc b. on April 16, 2014, 9:40 am

    ‘overblown’? most of the potted history of Jews in 2oth-21st century America is just plain wrong.

    1. is no ‘history’ of jewish ascendance in America complete without the autoerotic myth of the ‘perseverant plucky’ overachiever? Jews did not reach positions of importance due to the irresistibleness of their brilliance. if WASPs were bent on maintaining an ethnocracy ruled by WASPs, no amount of cleverness could have overcome it as quickly as it was overcome. WASPS recognized that the process was just as important as the result, whereas the myopics just want their cake. (it’s certainly not a strictly ‘jewish’ trait, but ruthlessness has risen to the top of desired skills, ruthlessness being an unspoken substitute for its synonym meritocracy, which is whey we see institutional corruption so rampant. this isn’t just a feature of government, but is a proven trend in the sciences, arts, etc., so we reward and have the benefit of the most ruthless scientists, economists, all playing cheerleader mom. the problem is that this reward system essentially guarantees we don’t promote the best scientists, economists, etc. but rather the most grasping and amoral of the bunch.)
    2. the history of anti-Semitism and exclusion of jews from the halls of power is inaccurate. again, if Harvard didn’t want the oppenheimers of the world on its campus, there really wasn’t much to prevent it from being more selective. and as I far as I can see, institutional anti-Semitism wasn’t much of an active force after WWII at all, rather it’s the inferiority complex that lingered on. so we have blowhards striking macho poses about winning wars without shots being fired, such comments serving the dual purpose of fluffing for Jewish masculinity and denigrating the gentile.
    3. fear of the muslim/anti-isreal sentiment amongst jews on campuses? if it’s sincere it’s also pathological. muslims have a crumb of power, and the biggest things that they have going for them (if I could lump them into a homogenous mass) are the luxury of being ‘right’ and the sense that they have little to lose in what remains of a democracy. (oh, and the fact that their critics insist on lumping them into a homogenous mass, thus creating a sense of solidarity that might not otherwise exist as strongly as it is becoming.)

  13. sasboy
    sasboy on April 16, 2014, 10:32 am

    Arab Americans are as entitled to express their views as anyone else. Criticism of US foreign policy is not anti Americanism and opposition to US foreign policy is not extremism.

  14. Betsy
    Betsy on April 16, 2014, 10:35 am

    good post — except that there’s a great danger in US of ‘ethnicizing’ inequality. America has a real problem facing it’s own inequality — and a chronic tendency to hide the realities of inequality by pretending that it’s a racial or ethnic problem. The best analysis of this is the amazing book by Barbara & Karen Fields Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life
    http://www.versobooks.com/books/1645-racecraft

    The underlying problem right now is the profound deepening of inequality. If we see this primarily as an ‘ethnic’ pattern, we won’t be able to have a conversation about the causes & solutions to this inequality. The book by the Fields sisters is one of the most important books of the last several decades…I can’t recommend it highly enough.

  15. hophmi
    hophmi on April 16, 2014, 7:50 pm

    A silly post with no relationship to any verifiable truth.

    No one is censoring Muslims and Arabs on campus. No one. The only thing happening on campus is that the BDS movement is trying to censor pro-Zionist voices. Those are the voices that are being silenced, the ones being shouted down and snapped at. When BDS tactics violate school rules, groups get censured.

    The BDS movement is addicted to claiming victimhood – they claim, defensively, that they’re being accused of antisemitism, they claim they’re being censored in op-eds to school newspaper, they claim the “Establishment” is out to get them, etc, etc.

    Meanwhile, Jews are about six times more likely than Muslims to be the victims of hate crimes in America.

    • talknic
      talknic on April 17, 2014, 9:23 am

      @hophmi You’re so right Hophmi “No one is censoring Muslims and Arabs on campus. No one. “

      The Zionist colonizers attempts to silence and/or smear anyone critical of the Zionist state’s ongoing colonization of Palestine. By law or intimidation with their legendary smears and false accusations Muslims, Jews, Christians, atheists, all are a threat to the State of Israel’s insane ongoing coveting of usurping other folks’ property

      “When BDS tactics violate school rules, groups get censured”

      When state’s violate their legal obligations they get censured. Israel has ignored some 60 years of being censured for not having adhered to its legal obligations, 60 years of opportunities for peace wasted. Resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands and the dispossession and usurping of the people of Palestine, their territory and its resources.

      Had Israel adhere to the law, stayed within its proclaimed and recognized borders , there’d be no need for any BDS against Israel. The vast majority of states living peacefully within their OWN territory, have no BDS actions against them.

      • hophmi
        hophmi on April 17, 2014, 11:34 am

        You’re just spewing a lot of hot air rhetoric. None of these kids have been censored in any way. No one has prevented them from writing op-eds for their school newspapers, introducing divestment resolutions, or for engaging in activism on campus, including mock checkpoints and the like, so long as they comply with college rules.

        The time is long past for making these claims.

      • talknic
        talknic on April 17, 2014, 12:09 pm

        hophmi “You’re just spewing a lot of hot air rhetoric.”

        None of which you can disprove..

        “None of these kids have been censored in any way. No one has prevented them from writing op-eds for their school newspapers, introducing divestment resolutions, or for engaging in activism on campus, including mock checkpoints and the like, so long as they comply with college rules”

        Intimidation via Zionist smears and false accusations swiftly follows.

        Speaking of rules. Israel could avoid delegitimizing itself immediately by abiding by the rules for once… the lack of adherence has caused thousands of deaths. I haven’t read of any deaths caused by students attempting to have Israel’s illegal activities curtailed via BDS

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka on April 17, 2014, 12:55 pm

      @hoppy “Meanwhile, Jews are about six times more likely than Muslims to be the victims of hate crimes in America.”

      Absolutely false.

      Since there are between 2.5 and 4 times as many Jews as Muslims in the US, taking the gross reports of hate crimes into account, the number is actually only about 1.9 times. (And it’s only correct to say that Jews are 1.9 times more likely than Muslims to report a hate crime, because the statistics track reporting, not occurrances.) But even if we put the distinction between reporting and occurrances aside, it wouldn’t even be correct to say that Jews are 1.9 times more likely than Muslims to be the victims of hate crimes in America.

      Almost three-quarters of the number of hate crimes which are attributed to anti-Jewish animus are, basically, vandalism. However, when it comes to crimes against the person — murder and nonnegligent homicide; aggravated assault; simple assaults and intimidations — a Muslim is 1.47 to 2.32 times as likely as a Jew to suffer such a crime against his person.

      So, again, it is probably okay to say that “a Muslim is 1.47 to 2.32 times as likely as a Jew to suffer a reported murder, non-negligent homicide, aggravated or simple assault or intimidation based on anti-religious animus, while a Jew is between 2.7 and 4.3 times as likely to suffer a reported hate-crime property crime for such animus.”

      But even those statements are likely to be false. Because when you examine the data, of the 1,100 anti-religious incidents reported in 2012, about 350 of those reports came out of New York City, and Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island, and these places were the only places in the entire country, where any signficiant number of hate crimes were reported, where the number of anti-religious hate crimes outnumber the number of anti-racial hate crimes. No state other than New York reported more anti-religion hate crimes than anti-race hate crimes, yet New York City, Nassau and Suffolk reported 5, 3 and 2 times as many anti-religion crimes.

      (And interestingly enough, when the numbers for anti-religious hate crimes are excluded from the figures for those NYC and LI places, the hate crimes reported for animus based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability are in line with the reporting for the rest of the country. Likewise, when the numbers for New York City, Suffolk and Nassau county are excluded from the New York State numbers, the resulting numbers are in line with the rest of the country. So it seems that it is only the reporting for animus based on religion in NYC, Suffolk and Nassau counties that are so out of whack.)

      So either the number of anti-religion hate crimes is being under reported everywhere in the entire united states except for New York City and Long Island or those places are over-reporting anti-religion hate crimes. Either way, it appears that there are big, big problems with the hate crimes reporting.

  16. Erasmus
    Erasmus on April 17, 2014, 7:03 am

    Meanwhile, Jews are about six times more likely than Muslims to be the victims of hate crimes in America.

    YEAH – YEAH- YEAH.
    We are the GREATEST VICTIMS – and nobody will take away from us the gold medal.
    Never – ever.

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