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Campus movement against Israel is largest since anti-Vietnam war movement, Cary Nelson says

Cary Nelson, an emeritus professor of English at the University of Illinois who is a leader in effort to counter BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), last week described BDS as a burgeoning political movement in the U.S. akin to the anti-war movement in the Vietnam era. The Gaza war has given impetus to the movement, he said in the video below:

We did not prepare for the level of uncontrolled hatred we faced since the war in Gaza. It has changed, and the level of hatred is tenfold what it was  a year ago, and our job is very hard.

Nelson even conceded that Israel ought to change its policies so as to defang the BDS movement before it becomes a “security threat” to Israel — say by removing some settlements east of the wall — but the thrust of his speech at a Tel Aviv University panel on fighting academic boycotts of Israel, was that a group of Pied Pipers in the U.S. who hate Israel are bewitching students and faculty and bringing them into “alternative communities” that provide them with a social and political cause. This movement has so intimidated Israel supporters that they “stand down… in silence.” Innocent students and faculty derive meaning from the movement.

“We’re going to a drink after the BDS panel. Want to come along?” [they say]. You’re brought into a network of human beings and you begin to ground your identity there. Some of course are therefore persuaded that BDS should become their primary political cause, the center of their political life. Some become completely obsessed with BDS activism…

And “we’ve passed a Rubicon,” Nelson went on, where support for BDS defines some instructors’ “professional identity,” and they feel a moral duty to recruit their students in BDS promotion in classrooms.

And I think really we haven’t seen anything like that in any way comparable since the Vietnam War. It’s a large shift, if what it means to teach if instead of presenting views, you actually want to bring students in line with your own political convictions.

Nelson’s speech, which was sponsored in part by the Jewish Federations, the largest Jewish organization in the United States, contained a giant blindspot. Apart from his fleeting reference to the Gaza war and the settlements, there was no acknowledgment that activists in the U.S., including their young recruits, are responding to real events that disturb them. He mocked the appeal to which students respond: “Justice and equality– you don’t have to think beyond that.”  It’s an “illusion,” he said. And as to the apartheid wall that activists constructed on his campus in Urbana-Champaign, Nelson said with a sneer:

“I’ve only looked at it once, I’m never going to look at it again.”

Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank cannot make that choice. But throughout his speech, Nelson identified himself with Israelis. He said he preferred speaking at Tel Aviv University to US venues because he gets heckled in the U.S. And he said that fighting BDS will surely shift Israelis’ “attention from more pressing military challenges.” And what could those military challenges be? Maybe the necessity of killing 2100 Palestinians in Gaza last summer, including 500 children, which shocked the world.

This was the insensitivity at the heart of Nelson’s speech. He seemed unaware of how much public opinion worldwide has been galvanized by the Gaza slaughter. Much as massacres in Vietnam helped to consolidate an antiwar movement inside the U.S. 45 years ago: People weren’t deluded, they were upset and needed to do something. BDS is a nonviolent movement aimed at isolating Israel and changing its behavior, and it has attracted great support from young people who don’t feel represented by their government’s statements, let alone the Jewish Federations. Of course, some in the movement are dedicated to ending the Jewish state, ending an official system of Jewish privilege. But its thrust is human rights, equality.



Nelson soon had the rug pulled out from under him by Dalit Baum, the Israeli feminist, BDS activist and leader of Who Profits. To the Tel Aviv University forum’s credit, Baum was granted an opportunity to speak from the audience at 13:00 of the video below. She took on the organizers’ cluelessness about what is shaping up in the U.S. The academic boycott of Israel targets a specific issue, she said: Israeli institutions are “complicit in the Israeli occupation.” (Big audience Yikes).

Now you may not agree with that but you have to deal with that. You have to deal with the facts.


Baum spoke of official efforts by universities to suppress BDS.

What we are seeing is a coordinated attack on any kind of criticism of Israel. Especially in the U.S., and now it’s creeping into Israel.

She addressed Israel’s policies and American support for them:

You ask why there is more criticism of Israel in the world? Because of Israeli policies! Read the news– seriously! Seriously! (Grumbles from the audience).

And still, the dominant views and the dominant hegemonic structures in the US are totally pro-Israeli. When it comes to the vote in the Senate, you get 100 votes pro-Israel, you get the tremendous support of the U.S., you get get the vetoing power.

Bringing the Debate to YouShe said that young Zionists are shocked by the climate on campus, but that’s alright. They need to wake up:

Jewish students on campus have to face this growing criticism. It’s unpleasant. Young people have to hear that they live in a complex world. They live in a place where there is criticism over some things that they thought from kindergarten that there is no problem… This is part of education and freedom of speech ..This is what students are supposed to feel and hear and encounter on campus.

You have to deal with the facts. What a simple and powerful statement. Cary Nelson thought he was getting a safe place to speak, inside the Tel Aviv bubble. But nearly a half century of occupation and Gaza have shifted the ground under our feet.


Phil Weiss and Annie Robbins

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss

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73 Responses

  1. adele on December 31, 2014, 12:01 pm

    “…a group of Pied Pipers in the U.S. who hate Israel are bewitching students and faculty…” – cary nelson

    The one and only reason Steven Salaita was targeted for destruction was because he was/is a leading and vocal academic activist supporting the American Studies Association ‘s BDS resolution. I think the resolution vote passed in March 2014; and all the liberal zionists freaked out and the anti-salaita coalition went into high gear soon after resulting in the administration bowing and scraping to the donors by the summer of 2014. The tweets were just an excuse, they really targeted Salaita to make an example out of this “pied piper” who is a proponent of the one thing liberal zionists fear most: an isolated, shunned, and boycotted Israel.

    I was surprised that they didn’t go after more academics who were involved in getting the resolution passed. Perhaps they couldn’t rally up any dirt on them, perhaps getting the administration to fire Salaita was enough of a general warning to any dissenting pied pipers, perhaps they didn’t want to compromise their modus operandi and strengthen Salaita’s case against UIUC. But one thing is certain, they have a list of targets and probably are itching to go after them.

    Cary Nelson is a major creep.

    • Krauss on January 3, 2015, 4:38 pm

      What’s interesting to me is when Salaita got banned, Nelson tried to portray himself as an innocent bystander interested only in public order and “civility”.

      I think that is important because that is how power functions once it isn’t threatened(or in Nelson’s case, when he thought he was safe). He now concedes that the opposition was not only far stronger than he had anticipated but perhaps even the dominant party right now.

      Notice how he speaks to the crowd as “we”. “We hadn’t anticipated” etc. Now that he is no longer in a position of power, he can be honest about his political aims. Power unmasked – and defanged.

      I must say that I think that activism after the Gaza war has been muted to a large extent because of the issue of police brutality. And that makes eminent sense; American matters will dominante in America.

      Today there are only really two movements in America that can inspire acticism: race in America and I/P. On foreign policy, Israeli Apartheid completely dominates.

      Nelson is right to be frightened. And he can be as dismissive as he wants to be; it doesn’t matter. An old and stone-hearted man like him are never going to touched, what matters are students who can empathise with humanity and oppression from a racist army and a racist Apartheid state.

  2. David Doppler on December 31, 2014, 12:42 pm

    Great report. Cluelessness is a wonder to behold. “It’s just like Vietnam, except the protesters are all wrong and Anti-Semites.”

    But perhaps this is how cluelessness gets cured. A lone voice in the supposedly “safe” crowd says, “hey, deal with the facts.” The rest of the crowd responds with hostility, trying to reinforce for themselves that any criticism is unwarranted, but seeds of doubt are planted, the incident will resonate for all of them over time, the “group-think” shattering.

    Nelson the advocate suggests maybe not killing so many Palestinians, so as to reduce the fuel for protest, also, in his way, reporting the facts: the destruction in Gaza last summer has galvanized opposition to Israeli policies. His analogy to Vietnam is telling: who had the right side of history in those protests? In that sense, Nelson is telling Tel Aviv: It’s over. You’ve lost. Change. But through indirection, trying to stay within his assigned or self-assumed role as Israel’s advocate in the US. Dershowitz did a similar number several years ago.

    Crowd dynamics in Israel have been very unhealthy, deliberately made that way by Likud policies, Netanyahu demagoguery. But crowd madness is difficult to sustain over time, especially as voices call out for justice, for facing the facts, and as the strongest voices for continued madness sound increasingly Glick-like: what, we’re going to follow her into battle?

    “Deal with the facts,” is such a compelling message when you’re facing group-think. “Huh? What facts? What does she mean, the facts? What’s wrong with her? [but the seed is planted, and facts don’t go away.]”

    • dmm on January 1, 2015, 11:35 am

      “…the ‘group-think’ shattering.”

      Possibly from the point of view of narrow-minded BDS under-achievers. Talk about cluelessness.

      No, the “group-think” isn’t shattering, and as galvanized as the BDS movement is becoming, the Zionist right is also becoming galvanized. Sympathy with the IDF has increased in America, not decreased. And the only “fact” on the ground that Israelis have to deal with is that Hamas is trying to destroy them, and will only succeed if they’re not liquidated first. Get a brain, Einstein.

      • annie on January 1, 2015, 1:19 pm

        Sympathy with the IDF has increased in America

        while americans who sympathize with israeli occupation forces may have increased their sympathies, the number of americans sympathizing has not increased.

  3. a blah chick on December 31, 2014, 1:01 pm

    “We’re going to a drink after the BDS panel. Want to come along?” [they say]. You’re brought into a network of human beings and you begin to ground your identity there.”

    Yes, my friends, that is how it starts, with an innocent drink after a panel discussion. Next come the weekend workshops run by attractive people who look and sound so reasonable. Before you know it they’re demanding that you cut ties with family and where a kaffiyeh. You’ll end your days as a glassy-eyed genocidist haranguing decent Jewish folk trying to get into the AIPAC conference.

    It’s a slippery slope.

  4. hophmi on December 31, 2014, 1:19 pm

    “You have to deal with the facts. What a simple and powerful statement. ”

    If only the BDS movement did so. If only it dealt with the fact that the movement is funded and supported by some of the most reactionary forces in the world. If only it acknowledged that BDS works to suppress pro-Israel voices while cynically and falsely claiming that they are the ones being suppressed. If only it condemned Palestinian violence as the terrorism that it is. If only.

    • oldgeezer on December 31, 2014, 1:54 pm

      I guess a comment about you living in some alternate universe is far too easy and obvious.

      So having suggested it I won’t actually state it.

      The simple fact, and bottom line, is that none of the things you mention have anything to do with Israel’s daily murders and oppression of millions of innocent civilians.

      It’s time to end the depradations of the terror state called Israel.

      • dmm on January 1, 2015, 11:48 am

        oldgeezer, I’d say it’s about time for you to check out. Apparently you’re *so* old that your brain has all but stopped functioning: “…none of the things you mention have anything to do with Israel’s daily murders and oppression of millions of innocent civilians.” Yes oldgeezer, the Palestinian violence is the one and only thing that is both necessary and sufficient to explain why the Palestinians are suffering. How do you not understand such an obvious fact? My guess is that your “ejumacation,” like that of so many of the sophomoric posters here, has been limited to what you’ve read on the Internet, and other pop sources. Possibly prior to your impending death, you’d like to grab an actual published, researched book, from a source other than some adolescent with too much time on his hands. I recommend The Source, by Conor Cruise O’Brien (former Irish Ambassador to the UN), or From Time Immemorial by Joan Peters, former CBS producer and Carter White House policy adviser.

      • Mooser on January 1, 2015, 4:16 pm

        “oldgeezer, I’d say it’s about time for you to check out.”

        You would say? You would say? And who the hell are you, to go telling other posters it’s time for them to die?

        Oh yeah, I forgot, Zionists. They know all, they judge all. Must be part of the charm offensive. And it sure is, isn’t it?

    • btbLondon on December 31, 2014, 2:28 pm

      The BDS movement is funded, on a shoestring, out the the not very deep pockets of its activists.

      We keep getting told how we are generously funded by ??? If only.

      • hophmi on December 31, 2014, 4:20 pm

        And it forever will be, no matter how many Saudi sheikhs and Hamas terrorists give to it behind the scenes.

      • Nevada Ned on January 1, 2015, 12:45 am

        Hophmi charges that the BDS is funded by Saudi Arabia.
        Everything I know tells me that this claim isn’t true.
        I believe that Hophmi has finally crossed the line.

        MW has a policy of banning commenters who think that “the Jews” were behind 9/11.
        What about someone who thinks (or pretends to think) that Saudi Arabia is financing the BDS movement?

        Give Hophmi an opportunity to make his case.
        Give him a week or so to produce documentary proof of this charge.

        If Hophmi can’t produce actual proof (as opposed to, say, a claim by Dershowitz),

        then either Hophi acknowledges that he lied,

        or he gets banned from MW.

        For life.

      • kma on January 1, 2015, 11:28 am

        hophmi: “…Saudi sheikhs and Hamas terrorists…”
        That’s all you got?
        One of the facts that you should deal with is that Hamas is not “terrorist”. Another is that if there is a Saudi doing something positive for human rights, then kudos to him. If the US hadn’t also propped up the worst of the worst in Egypt, we’d be seeing Gaza better off since 2011.

        But Israel and the US are on the wrong side of human rights. Fact.

      • Mooser on January 1, 2015, 12:15 pm

        “And it forever will be, no matter how many Saudi sheikhs and Hamas terrorists give to it behind the scenes.”

        Gosh, it just shows to go you, doesn’t it Hophmi. I thought you couldn’t possible get any dumber, but there you go exceeding my expectations. And there’s a whole year ahead of you, too.

      • Mooser on January 1, 2015, 4:22 pm

        “then either Hophi acknowledges that he lied,

        or he gets banned from MW.

        For life.”

        Nooooo! Only over my most strenuous protestations! This is a website which deals in a very serious subject, often very sad, and comic relief is always appreciated. Hophmi is so funny! Don’t ban him, simply take him as seriously as he deserves.

    • a blah chick on December 31, 2014, 2:56 pm

      You do know that many Israeli politicians get funded by rich Jews living abroad, like Adelson and Moskowitz. So foreign funding is okay so long as the Jewish elite benefits. Also Palestinians do not have to condemn every act of violence since Jews are not requited to do so. Lastly I would like for you to think about those dead kids in the ice cream coolers and how no Zionist leader condemned that.

      • pjdude on January 1, 2015, 9:22 pm

        zionist support a double standard in favor of jews and israel. in the end though i find their demanding this standard ends up being extremely anti semitic because at its core it robs jews of the ability to ever be resposnsible for their actions at least their negative ones.

    • seafoid on December 31, 2014, 3:10 pm

      If only Israel hadn’t silenced and sidelined all opposition to YESHA within Judaism, Hoph.
      Forest fires- you need the small ones to make the forest safer. Now the big fire is coming and Zionism is lost.

      • dmm on January 1, 2015, 12:16 pm

        Like you’d know ;-)

    • pjdude on December 31, 2014, 4:03 pm

      do you ever get tired of repeating the same lies. and not all violence is terrorism. i’m really tired of the REAL reactionaries people like labeling everything terrorism.

      you want people tocondemn palestinian terrorism( though i don’t get we do” fine right after you condemn the settlements as the war crimes they are and Israel’s illegal annexation of palestinians territory including jerusalem. than we can talk. until than your just another shill for thugs.

      • hophmi on December 31, 2014, 4:21 pm

        The BDS movement doesn’t condemn any Palestinian violence as terrorism.

      • seafoid on December 31, 2014, 4:42 pm

        IDF violence is never condemned by Israelis as terrorism, hoph.
        It’s quid pro quo.

      • pjdude on December 31, 2014, 5:14 pm

        thats a straight up lie and you know it hophmi. the BDS movement condems terrorism. you on the other hand condone war crimes. so once again your own bigotry leads to lie. i’ve seen the BDS movement condemn terrorism. i’ve yet to see you condemn any Israeli violence let alone one of your thugcracies long list of war crimes.

      • Mooser on January 1, 2015, 4:26 pm

        “The BDS movement doesn’t condemn any Palestinian violence as terrorism.”

        Gee, that’s quite a climb-down from that list of BDS-supporting Sheiks and terrorists I thought we had coming.

    • on December 31, 2014, 7:29 pm

      Kill less Palestinians because it will be good for Israel.

      Not because killing Palestinians is wrong. Nope. They don’t matter. It’s all about Israel.

      Sick SOBs

      • RoHa on December 31, 2014, 7:36 pm

        That’s appalling!

        Kill fewer Palestinians because it will be good for Israel.

    • Atlantaiconoclast on December 31, 2014, 11:19 pm

      hophmi, please tell me, do you believe that an occupied and colonized people have no right to kill their oppressors? If not, then do tell us when violence is justified, for I seriously doubt you are a pacifist.

    • CigarGod on January 1, 2015, 9:18 am

      You got me, man.
      I am one of the “most reactionary forces.”
      The $25 a year that i give to each of the 25 or so liberation minded organizations…make me and others like me…a reactionary powerhouse.

      Oh yeah: Boycott Israel!!!

  5. W.Jones on December 31, 2014, 1:32 pm

    square root of 48+67 = 1?
    I konfused.

    • annie on December 31, 2014, 2:00 pm

      sq root of 1948 plus 1967 equals 1 state

      ps, if something doesn’t make sense, change the way you look at it.

      • dmm on January 1, 2015, 12:22 pm

        Or… or… Maybe it’s just brainless? Ever consider that, dingbat?

      • Mooser on January 1, 2015, 4:29 pm

        “Ever consider that, dingbat?”

        Oh my that “dmm” is sure an orifice and a gentleman.

    • RoHa on December 31, 2014, 6:01 pm

      To save the rest of you reaching for your calculators, mine says the answer is 10.723805.

      But Annie is right about what it means.

  6. CloakAndDagger on December 31, 2014, 2:23 pm

    we’ve passed a Rubicon

    Amazing mangling of the phrase crossing the Rubicon by an emeritus professor of English at the University of Illinois!! It refers to Julius Caesar’s army’s crossing of the river Rubicon in 49 BC – a point of no return and the start of Caesar’s Civil War. What does “passing” a river mean?

    Not promising for his students…

    • John O on December 31, 2014, 2:31 pm

      On the plus side, he is emeritus.

      • RoHa on December 31, 2014, 6:09 pm

        “Out, and so he should be”, as Stephen Leacock translated the term.

        And those who’re left in the department will most likely be steeped in Critical Theory, and thus full of Foucault, Baudrillard, Lacan, and other French frauds, but have little acquaintance with English Literature or the English Language.

  7. amigo on December 31, 2014, 3:03 pm

    “We did not prepare for the level of uncontrolled hatred we faced since the war in Gaza. It has changed, and the level of hatred is tenfold what it was a year ago, and our job is very hard” nelson.

    Gee , what were you expecting.Love notes.thank you cards.Red roses.invitations to dinner.Gift vouchers.

    Are these people for real.

  8. seafoid on December 31, 2014, 3:22 pm

    I remember reading an article in 2007 warning Israel to get ready for BDS. They thought hasbara would stop it but it’s as useful as a chocolate fireguard. Whining about it now is too late.

    As MJR said yesterday

    MJ Rosenberg‏@MJayRosenberg 7h7 hours ago
    “Plenty of people defending Palestinians are Muslims or Arabs but most are just people who weighed the merits.”

    We have been the colors
    On a chameleons back
    Changing with time
    Altering the larger pattern
    Surviving genocide
    Because we have to
    We are targets of your unfairness
    With warriors for targets
    You create your own destruction
    This is how we bring you down
    Target by target you wound yourself
    Using your greed
    We watch your spirit fade
    We can endure your cages
    Your bullets your lies
    Your confusion
    We know you have
    Destroyed your peace

  9. Mooser on December 31, 2014, 4:10 pm

    “And I think really we haven’t seen anything like that in any way comparable since the Vietnam War.”

    And everybody remembers the horrible result of that student movement! It helped stop the war! We can’t let that happen again!

    Dude is nuts.

    • CigarGod on January 1, 2015, 9:29 am

      There were very israel friendly munition manufacturers promoting the vn war. Take my word for it.

      • dmm on January 1, 2015, 12:24 pm

        Why would anyone take your word for it? Reference not possible? ;-)

      • CigarGod on January 1, 2015, 12:49 pm

        You will still have to take my word for it.
        I worked for one of them. We had working relationships with others. It was a global business then, and of course…still is. We sold to both iran and iraq, as well.

      • Mooser on January 1, 2015, 4:34 pm

        “CigarGod”s word is good enough for me. What’s it to ya, “dmm”? But I must admit, it a very novel and new approach, to burst in and start saying the articles are full of lies and too damn short. It’s never been tried before. It will, no doubt, utterly demolish the frail skein of untruths cobbled together here.

        And I loved that “dingbat” directed at Annie. It’s so Archie Bunker.

      • annie on January 1, 2015, 4:44 pm

        i laughed at that dingbat too!

      • CigarGod on January 1, 2015, 5:50 pm

        Revetments…hardened aircraft shelters, artillery shell casings, etc. Just some of my companies products.

      • Mooser on January 2, 2015, 11:20 am

        I laughed at that dingbat too!”

        Annie, stifle yourself! Or, right to the moon, Alice!

      • DaBakr on January 3, 2015, 5:39 pm

        munition manufacturers that were “Israel friendly”. hmm. what does that even mean except for something insidious? like saying there were ‘very Arab friendly oil execs happy to promote the vn war due to immense fuel costs.[there were] or-the russians were very NVN friendly because of the ak-47. why try and spin some stupid argument when one of the biggest aims of mw is to try and promote the view that being anti-Zionist is not the same as hating Jews or blaming Israel for every ill in the world. [tho-maybe that is the predominant view here?] Stick to the USS Liberty and don’t start with the Israel/VN conspiracies as vn was ALL US and not the socialist Israel’s 60s war. In fact, I always thought Ben Gurion and HoChiMhin were very fond of each other and might have met in europe before the US intervention. Obviously they shared many of the same ideals, both wanted a limited socialist/free market system and both understood the need for a strong, flexible military. I doubt a decent argument could be made for Israel taking a position against NV except out of acquiescence or qpq to US admin. which is hardly surprising considering Israels position at the time was not particularly strong.

        Also–for most of the entrance into vn -circa 50s-’67 there was no ‘occupation’ of gaza or wb. and since the occupation is touted as the single biggest reason for the conflict- for what argument would dragging an “Israeli-friendly” munitions maker (supposedly) make? that Israel was a steadfast ally of the US and would stand by them come right or wrong? Or is that an extreme negative in the eyes of the left-wing who, imo, have issues with the difference between taking the side of the so-called oppressed and outright appeasement.

        regardless of your intent, it is fairly well regarded that munition manufacturers do not take into consideration the moral implications of their trade except when they possibly kneel down to their g-d (if they have one other then the $) and to suggest that Israel alone has some inside track on munitions is either ridiculous, insidious, bigoted or all of the above. unless you want to start a discussion about how many children have been killed by ak-47s or-maybe how many and which national political movements have the gun on their flags maybe your ‘word’ is not worth all that much on this subject.

    • Pixel on January 2, 2015, 5:35 am

      The only thing Nelson’s missing are suede elbow patches.

      • DaBakr on January 3, 2015, 5:46 pm


        Hah! pretty funny (for the sartorially inclined anyway)

  10. seafoid on December 31, 2014, 4:49 pm

    Carlo Strenger from 2008 dissing BDS . Very interesting to read it now with the wolf approaching the door in US universities . Hubris is such a bitch.

    When it comes to BDS, and the type of outrage that you’re venting, I really don’t see any value in this. The hand-wringing moralism of the European left hasn’t produced many results ; in the end what saved Kosovo was American intervention, like it or not. What brought Israel to the Madrid conference was smart politics, not name-calling. Do you want to be effective? Here is a strategy – one that requires more than ventilating outrage, but cool analysis. About 70% of Israeli voters support an agreement along the lines of the People’s Voice Initiative sponsored by Ami Ayalon and Sari Nusseibeh (the proportion among Palestinians is about identical). Only about 15% of Israelis at this point have an ideological stake in occupying the territories. The reason this doesn’t produce results is simple: Israelis are scared to death, even if your outrage makes it difficult to see this. That’s the reason they keep voting for those who promise them an illusory security. The question is how to empower the 70% majority’s desire for peace. I do think that the international community is needed for this. for this, Steven, you will have to engage in real-life politics, not in hand-wringing and name Both Israel and the Palestinians are paralysed for internal reasons. Breaking through this deadlock requires political creativity. Instead of BDS, the following is needed: an initiative that would combine EU forces with peacekeepers of Arab countries to create a de-militarised zone that would guarantee Israel ‘s security and finally end the occupation. But calling, and you’ll have to get Europe to be willing to play a more active role, which is sorely needed. ”

    Israelis are not just scared. They are also spoilt. They think the world owes them something.

    I think it may be linked to this

  11. RoHa on December 31, 2014, 6:26 pm

    “He said he preferred speaking at Tel Aviv University to US venues because he gets heckled in the U.S.”

    Gutless. A professor and lecturer should be used to facing challenges.

    “Jewish students on campus have to face this growing criticism. It’s unpleasant. Young people have to hear that they live in a complex world. They live in a place where there is criticism over some things that they thought from kindergarten that there is no problem… This is part of education and freedom of speech ..This is what students are supposed to feel and hear and encounter on campus. ”

    Exactly. Molly-coddling does them no favours. And the same goes for professors emeriti.

    • Pixel on January 2, 2015, 5:48 am

      Did I hear Nelson right?

      In his Jewish Studies classes he’s no longer allowed to talk about Israel?

      If so, there’s hope for the University of Illinois, after all.

      • DaBakr on January 3, 2015, 5:48 pm


        There will be hope when the University of Illinois is no longer allowed to be discussed in the University of Illinois.

  12. David Green on December 31, 2014, 11:01 pm

    In regard to Cary Nelson, let me say this. I have lived in Champaign for 16 years, and in fact I lived across the street from Cary for 2 years. I got to know him only a little, and now I understand why. I accepted his leftist credentials at face value. I should not have. In any event, everything about my 16 year experience on campus and in the community as a Jewish pro-Palestinian activist contradicts the assertions he made at this event. Jewish Studies, and an Israel Studies Project within Jewish Studies has dominated the discourse. A Schusterman fellow has taught the course on Israeli history for years. On the other hand, JS/ISP has in recent years avoided provocative and/or informative discussions, emphasizing more narrow scholarly interests. That’s because there are a few individuals like Michael Rothberg who know enough to be embarrassed by Israel’s behavior. Pro-Israel speakers beyond Hillel have dwindled to nothing. They have even dwindled at Hillel in comparison to 10 years ago. The SJP goes about its business with a few speakers every year. The wall on the Quad was largely administratively suppressed, but in any event (of course) intimidated or threatened nobody. I’ve known three or four “generations” of SJP students, and they’ve always been decent and personable, and much less angry than me. For Nelson to say that he can’t have an anti-BDS talk on campus without being heckled or worse is just nonsense. He hasn’t tried, to my knowledge, and there simply is no penchant in my experience of this campus at dozens of events for pro-Palestinian students or community members to be rude or disruptive. I can honestly say that I myself was rude on two occasions in a minor way (2005, 2008), and that constitutes 100% of the rudeness at pro-Israel events, period, although my rudeness actually included factual argument. The manner in which Nelson parades himself as a victim is just beyond belief, and well beyond any evidence. He has become one sick, paranoid, self-pitying puppy. BTW, I have a copy of the chapter in his book called “The History of Israel.” It was co-written with Rachel Harris, a literature professor on campus, and likely mostly written by Kenneth Stein of Emory. It is simply propagandistic garbage, from start to finish; what 3rd grade Israeli students read is probably more fair. Even the brief bibliography shows that Nelson doesn’t take seriously the historical scholarship–it includes none of the revisionist figures. Ultimately, it’s ignorance and lack of self-reflection that is the problem. Dalit Baum is exactly right in the second video above. And look at the expression on Nelson’s face, in the midst of somebody who is genuinely being heckled. Unbelievable.

    • CigarGod on January 1, 2015, 9:42 am

      Nice that you have the courage to speak out.
      I do a lot of street talk intetviews every week and am dismayed at how many people wont voice an opinion…on a given topic…for fear of impactjng employment, social standing, church fellowship…or even out of fear that neighbors wont allow their children to play together. Wyoming is a bit isolated…but i think my exoerience is pretty standard across the usa.

    • Pixel on January 2, 2015, 6:13 am

      Thanks for this, man.

      Always interesting to hear from someone who has personal experience to add.

      Listening to Nelson talk in the first video, it was all I could do to sit still and not rip my hair out. I got into academics because of guys like that. Negative role models can be great motivation.

      I’d like to think that, even as an undergrad, I’d have seen right through his nonsense – and all of it was nonsense from word 1 straight to the end.


      I’m not going to start by playing emotional cards, tonight — and the [highly detailed and biased] emotional cards that I’m not going to play are a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h,… and x, y, z.

      It was downhill from there, and it would have been funny if it weren’t so pathetic.

      Great crowd, though. Good to see so much gray hair in the room.

  13. russgreen on January 1, 2015, 9:26 am

    I love Dalit’s sign. Very clever. It’ a mathematician’s kind of humor. Here’s how I read it: “the square root of 48 plus 67 equals 1” or in other words “radical (48+67) equals 1” or in other words “Radical: the land from 48 plus the land from 67 equals 1 state.” It’s a mathematical pun. I love it. And love Dalit. She is doing great work. Happy New Year everyone.

    • Pixel on January 2, 2015, 6:22 am

      Given that I didin’t know any of the players, I was so confused from the title that I thought the person holding the sign was Nelson.

      Figured the “pun” out right away but I couldn’t put it into context.

      Good grief.

  14. kma on January 1, 2015, 11:52 am

    wow, I have to say that I did NOT know that zionists considered the loss of Vietnam by the US to be an existential threat to Israel!
    As a non-Jewish American, it bugs me to see people like Nelson trying to control my country while referring to themselves as part of Israel.
    We are sending our young men to die in wars that Israel wants, and we will burn their flag at our anti-war protests. If Nelson wants to add Vietnam to the crime list, I’m okay with it… glad that one is over, now it’s time to stop the rest.

    His comment about teaching “views” is ridiculous. He’s saying that universities should be obfuscating the truth by teaching alternate “views” – not in addition to the truth, but instead of it!

    oh, and, it’s not called “hatred” as he says, it’s called “anger”. Justified anger.

    • DaBakr on January 3, 2015, 6:08 pm


      i don’t know this Cary prof. except for his role in Saliata case but can assure you that the many Zionists I know in the US plus pretty much all the Israelis that actually fought in war had no truck with NV and if old enough did not take the argument of the domino theory seriously. i am old enough to remember being taught that Ben Gurion and Ho Chi Minh were politically ‘friendly’ and in sync.
      The US Zionists I know of that considered the “loss of Vietnam” as a blow-were mostly Jewish soldiers who fought and were pissed off at the US gov. Or-like my American Uncle who served in both US Navy and IDF as surgeon was always conservative arch anti-communist but never conflated VN loss with Israel. I can not recall a time when the two distinct conflicts crossed political swords. (though I am certain if they ever did-even once-someone on mw will dredge it up)

  15. Citizen on January 1, 2015, 1:53 pm

    Meanwhile, while Americans did their holiday shopping and planning their government passed legislation that cements their blood and treasure to hold Israel harmless against all of that insane state’s enemies combined, and as well allows their government to spy on them without due process (and turn over results unveiled directly to Israel):

    This passing of legislation in the dead of the 2014 night is as scary as legislation passed the same way over the 1913 Christmas holidays, legislation that installed the Federal Reserve System and the IRS.

    • CigarGod on January 1, 2015, 3:12 pm

      That link is a must read.

      One of the many interesting points:
      Usa/israel strengthen ties over water, agriculture and energy. Gee…guess who has the land
      No problem tho…since the usa weapon stock pile in israel just went from $200 million…to $1 billion.

      In tomorrows news on npr: Those darn palestinians are just a bunch of chicken littles.

      • DaBakr on January 3, 2015, 6:11 pm


        “chicken littles”. don’t you mean chickens**ts in the interests of the US still being a ‘fair broker’?

  16. Pixel on January 2, 2015, 4:22 am

    What does Mondoweiss mean to me?

    Words are powerful tools that can cause great damage, support the status quo, or foster positive change by challenging people to think about things in different ways.

    Mondoweiss continues to be a leader in gently and persistently challenging readers, writers, and commenters to think, to question, to consider, to debate, to process, and to act for positive change in the causes of justice, equality, and human rights.

    Yes, Virginia, words matter.

    Watching these videos, it occurred to me for the first time in my life that reference is always made to the “Arab-Israeli Conflict”.

    Why is that, and does it matter?

    I think it does, and I think it’s time to change it .

    The “Israeli-Arab Conflict” is the phrase I will now use.

    Thank you, Mondoweiss, for ALL you do!!

    • Pixel on January 2, 2015, 4:59 am

      Maybe “Israeli-Arab Conflict” doesn’t even go far enough.


      Additional suggestions?

    • CigarGod on January 2, 2015, 9:57 am

      “Israeli-Arab conflict.”
      And now there are two of us…

      • Citizen on January 2, 2015, 10:05 am

        Consider “Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict”?
        Israel’s high court does not recognize their Jewish citizens as primarily “Israeli.” OTH, the Palestinians don’t yet have a state, so I guess “Israeli-Palestinian conflict” won’t work?

      • CigarGod on January 2, 2015, 11:14 am

        Okay…my synapses are starting to spark.
        How about: the israeli apartheid conflict?

  17. michelle on January 2, 2015, 7:17 pm

    Israel stole the house and locked the rightful owners in the basement
    starving beating and killing them day and night calling it justice
    that’s where the “hatered” begins and ends
    the conflict
    that has always been
    will always be
    in some form or another
    is justice-injustice
    G-d Bless

  18. James McGinley on January 2, 2015, 9:37 pm

    Your title… “AGAINST ISRAEL??????” MW, you do wonderful work. THANK YOU. But you wipe it all out with such a mistake. HOW IS BDS “AGAINST ISRAEL????” BDS is against the desecration of Palestinian Human Rights!!!! Do NOT fall into the Israeli Propaganda trap of saying this is ‘Against Israel.’ 1. It is NOT, 2. The world will NOT ACCEPT being ‘Against Israel,’ and the world WILL ACCEPT being against the destruction of HUMAN RIGHTS. PLEASE!

    • DaBakr on January 3, 2015, 6:15 pm


      your playing around with semantics. i’m sure you mean well but your not going to convince any of the Palestinians or Israelis. Maybe the community of western run left-wing human rights orgs, but not the people actually involved in the conflict-including our much ‘loved’ anti-Zionist Israeli Jews. There is most definitely a ‘for’ and ‘against’ and all the manipulations and highfaluting ideals won’t change that.

  19. John Salisbury on January 2, 2015, 10:48 pm

    Cary Nelson is on the wrong side of history.And I think he knows it.The moral and ethical underpinnings of Zionism are just not strong enough.It is the antithesis of the constitutional underpinnings of the country Cary Nelson chooses to live in.

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