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An Open Letter to Dan Rabinowitz: Let’s get our facts straight about BDS

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In a recent column in Ha’aretz.com, the Israeli anthropologist Dan Rabinowitz argues against the Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) by hitching his political bona fides to his purported friendship with the late Edward Said. Rabinowitz writes,

I am an Anthropologist at Tel-Aviv University, proud to have been a personal friend of Edward Said. I am currently involved in an effort to curb attempts to boycott Israeli universities… The uphill battle in which my colleagues and I are engaged often makes me think of Edward’s legacy.”

Since Said’s death over a decade ago many have invoked his name or staked claims to his legacy. Rabinowitz’s invocation strikes me as particularly cynical: Since Said can no longer speak for himself, Rabinowitz speaks for him: See it’s not just me. Even Edward Said, that very icon of Palestinian politics, would have been against the academic boycott. PACBI has attacked even him. In the hands of Rabinowitz, Said’s legacy is harnessed in defense of the privilege of a left-liberal Ashkenazi Jew who enjoys (full) citizenship in the Israeli state even as its increasingly harsh racial regime makes life ever more unlivable for Palestinians subjected to its rule.

Rabinowitz is right. In 2012, PACBI criticized the East West Music Diwan, the orchestra founded by Said and Daniel Barenboim that brings together young Palestinian and Israeli musicians to practice and perform. Regardless of what one might think of PACBI’s position, it is disingenuous to claim to know what Said would have done with Diwan—and what he would have thought about the academic and cultural boycott—had he lived to witness Israel’s ever more brutal regime and the concomitant rise of the civil society movement that has become BDS. [1] We can all invoke Said’s name. But let’s try and be grown ups here. Let’s have the conversation without abusing Said’s legacy to ground our own claims to being on the right side of history and politics.

Rabinowitz’s attack on BDS rests on three central claims. First, that in promoting the boycott BDS “neglect[s] mainstream economic institutions” in favor of focusing on institutions that “are overwhelmingly in favor of dialogue and compromise,” that is, universities and cultural institutions.  Second, universities “cannot, must not and do not take institutional positions on political issues.” Third, and most fundamental, BDS has a hidden agenda; it is not being honest about its political intentions.  In other words, without naming it as such, Rabinowitz—following in the footsteps of many a critic of BDS—raises the specter of anti-Semitism in his op-ed.

Each of Rabinowitz’s claims is misleading, however. The BDS National Committee is largely dedicated to pushing for an economic boycott. And they have had some notable successes: During the Gaza war in the summer of 2014, dock workers in the Port of Oakland honored a community picket line and refused to unload cargo from an Israeli shipThat same summer the (U.S.) Presbyterian Church passed a divestment resolution that pulled millions of dollars from companies profiting from the occupation. And they are not alone. Calls to divest from military and security companies that sustain and profit from the occupation are gaining steam. Last April, the British bank Barclays dumped its holdings of Elbit Systems. Likewise, the Danish bank Merkur terminated its contract with G4S. For it part, the European Union is about to start “slapping labels on products produced in Israeli settlements.” Testament to the growing momentum of the call to divest from the Israeli economy, in a recent op-ed in the Washington Post two self-declared “lifelong Zionists” explained why they support an economic boycott of Israeli goods—and not just those produced in the occupied territories.  True, Steven Levitsky and Glen Weyl did not frame their call for “boycotts of and divestures from the Israeli economy” as support for BDS. But without the work BDS has done over the last decade, economic divestment would not be on the table. There would be no discussion in the U.S. public domain of whether or not we should, as American citizens, support economic divesture from the Israeli state.

What about universities? Is it really true that they cannot, must not, and do not take “institutional positions on political issues?” Is it really true that Israeli universities “are overwhelmingly in favor of dialogue and compromise?” Israeli universities take political positions that support the status quo all the time. Sometimes taking political positions involves making declarations of support: Rabinowitz’s own university released a statement on July 24, 2014 in support of “all the security forces who are working to restore quiet and security to Israel,” that is, the armed forces fighting the Gaza war. More often, taking a political position is structural in form: building universities on confiscated Palestinian land; developing weapons systems with the Israeli military; formulating the Dahiya doctrine, used in Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2014, that calls for the use of disproportionate force to destroy civilian property and infrastructure; providing financial and academic support for Israeli soldiers (the vast majority of Palestinians in Israel do not serve); giving course credit for classes in hasbara, that is, learning social media strategies designed to justify Israeli policies under the guise of “public diplomacy;” and more routinely, discriminating against Palestinian students in their midst. [2]

Yes, Israeli universities are not alone in helping to develop military technologies and strategies or in reproducing the forms of violence that characterize the states and societies of which they are a part. And if there were a global political movement calling for a boycott of U.S. universities to protest the violence the U.S. unleashes on the world, I would stand in solidarity with that call. [3] But we are not discussing “what ifs” here. In supporting a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, I am responding to a call from Palestinian civil society that we recognize the integral role that Israeli universities play in sustaining the Israeli state and its belligerent regime. And I am responding to that call because I recognize that as a professor at a U.S. university I bear a particular political and ethical responsibility:  The “exceptional” relationship between the U.S. and Israel demands that I take a stand.

To understand what is really at stake in Rabinowitz’s argument, however, we need to attend to his central charge: BDS is lying about its real goals. It claims to have one politics but in reality it has a very different one. “BDS’ insistence on Israel’s withdrawal from the territories it took in 1967 suggests a two-state solution,” but its real politics? It is a movement that does not think Israel should have been founded in the first place. It is a movement that (surreptitiously) promotes the “endgame” of “a future with no Israel.”

But let’s get our facts straight. BDS does not take a position on what the political outcome should be. It only insists that three principles be upheld: ending the occupation, recognizing the right to equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and respecting the right of return for refugees. Moreover, is it really a secret that Palestinians do not think the Jewish state should have been founded in Palestine in the first place? There may well be exceptions here and there, but that strikes me as a truism, hardly a secret that needs to be exposed. Nearly 70 years later, however, Israel does exist so the question shifts: What do we do now? BDS insists that Israel cannot—and should not—continue to exist as it exists today. Yes, this is a challenge to the state’s future—that is, those of us advocating for boycott and divestment think that the Israeli state has no right to continue to exist as a racial state that builds the distinction between Jew and non-Jew into its citizenship laws, its legal regimes, its educational system, its economy, and its military and policing tactics. What the day after will look like remains an open question: a two-state solution with a simultaneous dismantling of Jewish privilege within the “Green Line” so that Israel’s Palestinian citizens can enjoy equal rights? A one state solution whose form remains uncertain—a bi-national state, a secular-democratic state? What will happen to the refugees? Where will they go? What rights will they have?  Will compensation be one option? There is no hidden agenda here, only efforts to imagine a political endgame that is not the status quo and they are out there in the open for everyone to see, to consider, and to discuss.  The power of BDS is that it has brought that conversation into the U.S. public domain in a way that I have never seen before.

Notes

  1. In 2015, Daniel Barenboim himself expressed “qualified support” for the BDS.  See www.classicalmusicmagazine.org/2015/06/barenboim-reveals-qualified-support-for-bds-in-2015-edward-w-said-lecture/ 

  2. See, for example, Levy, “The Shin Bet’s Academic Freedom” (Haaretz 9/8/08); Dean of Student Office at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, “Assistance To Students Who Serve in Military Reserve Duty” (2009); “At Last: Improvement Of The Conditions Of Reservists Who Had Served In The War! (True Change2009).  See also Uri Yacobi Keller, Academic Boycott of Israel and the Complicity of Israeli Academic Institutions in Occupation of Palestinian Territories (Alternative Information Center, 2009). On hasbara, see “Haifa University Launches course in pro-Israeli propaganda,” Ben White, Middle East Monitor, 15 April 2014.  On Tel Aviv University’s Operational Theory Research Institute, which pioneered the Israeli military’s urban warfare strategy, see Eyal Weizman, Hollow Land: Israel’s Architecture of Occupation (Verso, 2007).  

  3. It is worth emphasizing, however, that boycott and divestment campaigns are only effective vis-à-vis particular states and economies.  It is not a one size fits all strategy. Given the economic power of the U.S. in the world, it is not a strategy that would have much effect. Israel is in a very different position:  Like South Africa, it is vulnerable to calls for the U.S. and European publics to boycott and divest from its cultural and economic institutions in a way that many other states, regardless of how violent or repressive they might be, are not.

Nadia Abu El-Haj

Nadia Abu El-Haj is professor in the Departments of Anthropology at Barnard College and Columbia University, and Co-Director of the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia. She is the author of Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society (2001), and The Genealogical Science: The Search for Jewish Origins and the Politics of Epistemology (2012), both published by the University of Chicago Press.

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48 Responses

  1. Ossinev on November 9, 2015, 11:14 am

    The divestment and sanctions elements in the BDS movement have been vital and continue to be vital – they are the ones which have given the start up oxygen to the movement. The really pivotal element is however BOYCOTT. Israeli can ignore and withstand economic and trade sanctions and embargoes. What will really make the difference however is for them to be boycotted in sporting,cultural,academic and scientific circles. Yes they will moan,scream,cry “crocodile tears ” about “Anti-Semitism” and yes they will suckle even more feverishly on the US teat but eventually they will really begin to feel the effects of being considered as and treated like pariahs in the civilised world.

    And the rats will begin leaving the sinking ship clutching their second passports.

    BOYCOTT APARTHEID ISRAEL

  2. hophmi on November 9, 2015, 11:59 am

    “The BDS National Committee is largely dedicated to pushing for an economic boycott. And they have had some notable successes: During the Gaza war in the summer of 2014, dock workers in the Port of Oakland honored a community picket line and refused to unload cargo from an Israeli ship.”

    Big deal. It’s not been repeated, and it did not affect anyone’s bottom line.

    That same summer the (U.S.) Presbyterian Church passed a divestment resolution that pulled millions of dollars from companies profiting from the occupation.”

    Big deal. It alienated the Church, which is losing influence by the day, from many in the grassroots who wanted no part of BDS.

    “Calls to divest from military and security companies that sustain and profit from the occupation are gaining steam. Last April, the British bank Barclays dumped its holdings of Elbit Systems. Likewise, the Danish bank Merkur terminated its contract with G4S.”

    Big deal. Neither company is doing badly. Britain probably has more BDS activists than anywhere else in the world. They couldn’t even win a debate against Alan Dershowitz in the Oxford Union.

    “For it part, the European Union is about to start “slapping labels on products produced in Israeli settlements.””

    Big deal. Goods produced in the settlements represent a tiny portion of the Israeli economy, and no European will say it was because of BDS.

    “Testament to the growing momentum of the call to divest from the Israeli economy, in a recent op-ed in the Washington Post two self-declared “lifelong Zionists” explained why they support an economic boycott of Israeli goods—and not just those produced in the occupied territories. ”

    LOL. They’re full of it. No one regards either one of these guys as lifelong Zionists; no one has ever heard from them before on this issue. And they’re more than outweighed by countries doing new business with Israel, like India and China.

    Nadia Abu El Haj teaches at Columbia. Her school virtually expelled poor African-Americans and Hispanics from their homes in Morningside Heights so that they could build an expensive private school there. They receive plenty of grants from the US Government, which, of course, caused the deaths of anywhere from 100,000 to a million people in wars of choice in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve not heard of Abu El-Haj calling for a boycott of American universities.

    “BDS does not take a position on what the political outcome should be. ”

    That’s because they know that outwardly calling for Israel’s destruction would make it harder for them to attract young, naive college students. No one actually believes that BDS wants anything other than one Palestinian state with an Arab Muslim majority, and the concurrent deprivation of Jewish self-determination rights.

    • annie on November 9, 2015, 1:08 pm

      No one actually believes

      back to the ‘ol everyone agrees w/me crutch, eh.

      Nadia Abu El Haj teaches at Columbia. Her school virtually expelled poor African-Americans and Hispanics from their homes in Morningside Heights so that they could build an expensive private school… They receive plenty of grants from the US Government, which..caused the deaths of.. 100,000 to a million people….I’ve not heard of Abu El-Haj calling for a boycott of American universities.

      lol, there’s no end to your hasbara contortions hops.

      • hophmi on November 9, 2015, 2:54 pm

        There’s no end to your inability to respond to any argument that challenges your assumptions or your privilege, Annie.

      • annie on November 9, 2015, 4:37 pm

        my privilege? that’s rich/not. and don’t confuse my unwillingness to jump on some diversionary ‘bds is no “big deal”‘ jargon of yours as an “inability” to shoot down your silly argument.

      • JustJessetr on November 9, 2015, 5:21 pm

        Oh, you’re most definitely privileged, Annie. You are racially and economically perched above the rest of the world here in the US. You are safe with your white skin and your money. All you have to do is say, “Sorry, I didn’t mean it.” and your transgressions would be forgiven by the people you offend if they ever decide to come after you. Those people of color who you push to the front lines will not be as quickly forgiven. Shame on you.

      • Mooser on November 9, 2015, 5:57 pm

        “There’s no end to your inability to respond to any argument that challenges your assumptions or your privilege, Annie.”

        Now listen carefully, “Hophmi”: Blogger is free! You could have every “assumption” and every “privilege” Annie has, in less than a half-hour. And all of Phil’s into the bargain.
        And with you being the outreach balnes you are, your blog readership should exceed Mondo’s in no time, and you get to moderate the comments! How can you lose? Sure seems better than staying around here and being a laughingstock.

      • annie on November 9, 2015, 8:53 pm

        if they ever decide to come after you.

        be afraid, be very afraid.

      • Mooser on November 9, 2015, 9:28 pm

        “Those people of color who you push to the front lines will not be as quickly forgiven.”

        Wow, “Justjesset”, do you spend time thinking up ways to be stupid, crazy and offensive, or does it just come natural. Yup, right-wing Zionism as the defenders of “people of color”! Yup, that ought to sell.

    • Mooser on November 9, 2015, 1:16 pm

      “Nadia Abu El Haj teaches at Columbia. Her school virtually expelled poor African-Americans and Hispanics from their homes in Morningside Heights so that they could build an expensive private school there.”

      “Hophmi” is dissing Columbia. You can smell the flop sweat all over that one.

      “Columbia University boasts a long-standing commitment to Israel and Jewish studies, not to mention the oldest program in Yiddish studies in the nation. It is not …” http://www.iijs.columbia.edu/jewish-life-on-campus/

    • eljay on November 9, 2015, 1:16 pm

      || hophmi: … the concurrent deprivation of Jewish self-determination rights. ||

      No-one is attempting to deprive any person in the world who wishes to be Jewish of his/her right to be Jewish.

      But if by “Jewish self-determination rights” you mean an entitlement to a religion-supremacist state, no such right exists. Not for Jewish people, not for anyone else.

      • RoHa on November 9, 2015, 6:25 pm

        “But if by “Jewish self-determination rights” you mean an entitlement to a religion-supremacist state, no such right exists. Not for Jewish people, not for anyone else. ”

        We’ve pointed this out to him over and over again. We’ve presented arguments for our position.
        Hophmi has ignored it all. He has not presented any sort of counter argument.

        I doubt he will do anything other than keep on repeating the “self-determination” line, though I don’t know why he would bother. He surely knows the claim has no force.

      • hophmi on November 10, 2015, 12:12 pm

        “you mean an entitlement to a religion-supremacist state, no such right exists. Not for Jewish people, not for anyone else”

        Apparently, it exists for Muslims many times over. Your inability to deal with counterarguments does not mean I haven’t presented them.

        Then again, RoHa, you’re a guy who suggests that Jews should be blamed for their own persecution history, so really, who cares what you think?

      • eljay on November 10, 2015, 1:10 pm

        || hophmi: … Apparently, it exists for Muslims many times over. … ||

        A wonderful example of Zio-supremacist “morality”: “Other guys in the neighbourhood beat their wives, so I’m entitled to kidnap a woman, make her my wife and then beat her.”

      • RoHa on November 10, 2015, 5:53 pm

        “Other guys in the neighbourhood beat their wives, so I’m entitled to kidnap a woman, make her my wife and then beat her.”

        But eljay, surely you are not suggesting kidnapping and then beating without marriage! That would be just wrong!

      • RoHa on November 10, 2015, 5:57 pm

        ‘“you mean an entitlement to a religion-supremacist state, no such right exists. Not for Jewish people, not for anyone else”

        Apparently, it exists for Muslims many times over.’

        I have never seen any arguments to that effect.

        ” Your inability to deal with counterarguments does not mean I haven’t presented them.”

        I haven’t seen you present any. Direct me to them, please.

        ‘Then again, RoHa, you’re a guy who suggests that Jews should be blamed for their own persecution history, so really, who cares what you think?’

        It looks as though you care about the suggestion that Jews are partly responsible for annoying their neighbours.

      • Mooser on November 10, 2015, 6:03 pm

        “Apparently, it exists for Muslims many times over. Your inability to deal with counterarguments does not mean I haven’t presented them.”

        “Hophmi” when you start saying that the Jews should have an “religion supremacist” state because the Muslims have them, don’t you get the feeling you’ve sort of gone down a blind alley?
        So now, do you want to back up this right to a religious supremacist system by saying it is the best system for Jews, or that it’s a bad thing when Muslims do it, but a good thing when Jews do it?

    • talknic on November 9, 2015, 3:25 pm

      @ hophmi Another Ziotool in denial and wading in it, big deal.

    • Keith on November 9, 2015, 4:53 pm

      HOPHMI- “They receive plenty of grants from the US Government, which, of course, caused the deaths of anywhere from 100,000 to a million people in wars of choice in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

      Wars which US Zionists and Israel supported. Exactly how many imperial wars and interventions have AIPAC and the Conference of Presidents of the Major Jewish Organizations opposed? Both American and Israeli Zionism is imperialist to the core.

    • DaBakr on November 9, 2015, 8:27 pm

      @an-

      obviously-some people do believe that BDS does not seek -or “take a position” the complete destruction of Jewish sovereignty in Israel.

      But for the most part-the argument presented by hp – and dropping the attitude-is the same argument that a large majority of EU, Asian, Can, US, etc use to discredit bds. And its very easy to accomplish the taking of a position by simply “not taking a position” on a divided polar issue. It is hard to deny that the reason BDS doesn’t take a public position on , what the author claims, ‘a given truth’ that all Palestinians but a few here and there’ want the complete destruction of the Israeli state and to revert back to the time when Israel did not exist-would definitely put off many more impressionable college kids, liberal X’rs and other people who might be on the fence.

      other then that-its natural that you disagree with the premise that BDS represents anything that is in opposition to ‘human rights’

      • annie on November 9, 2015, 8:57 pm

        dropping the attitude-is the same argument that a large majority of EU, Asian, Can, US, etc use to discredit bds.

        but a large majority of EU, Asian, Can, US, do not discredit bds.

      • talknic on November 9, 2015, 10:41 pm

        @ DaBakr “obviously-some people do believe that BDS does not seek -or “take a position” the complete destruction of Jewish sovereignty in Israel”

        In order to show it’s not just your wailgob spewing out unsubstantiated Ziopoop, quote the BDS movement … thx

      • echinococcus on November 10, 2015, 12:53 am

        “some people do believe that BDS does not seek… the complete destruction of Jewish sovereignty in Israel”

        Of course it does not, but all the same Bakr should be congratulated for the flash of insight in his pitch dark mental night that allowed the correct wording of the only definition of justice in Palestine.

      • diasp0ra on November 10, 2015, 1:34 am

        That is a lot of conjecture DB,

        BDS takes no stance on anything political, it is a human rights campaign pure and simple with human rights goals. Are animal rights groups expected to take stances on labor laws? Does that mean that animal rights groups want workers to suffer?

        When I asked Omar Baghouti: How do you see (or hope to see) the BDS movement affecting the conflict in the future?

        His response was “We do not take a position on the political outcome of this colonial conflict.”

    • CigarGod on November 9, 2015, 10:07 pm

      Gee…all that “big deal” stuff coming from you…yet the anti-bds folks sure are coming unglued over it.
      I went to a country fair once and they had a chicken typing on a typwriter…like crazy. You couldn’t make heads or tails out of what he left on the paper…but I guess he liked the attention.
      Reminds me a little of you.

  3. niass2 on November 9, 2015, 2:13 pm

    Dear dan, I am Shaun. I am unimportant. I went to College and Grad school 2X. Pitzer, Emory and Brandeis. I support BDS. Isreal breaks all human norms, especially those established by the United States and Isreal after the Holocaust in Nuremberg. BDS helps to isolate what has become a racist state for palestinians, Africans, Aliens, Dead Heads, Phish heads, Jews, Arabs, Christians and anyone else who isnt crazy. Isreal will only emerge once it offers equal rights and justice and land. Go get a real job and stop writing in Newspapers. We don’t care about your Anthropology background. I speak Wolof. Who cares? Nobody I know. See ya someday maybe. No we will not buy Isreali or even products made by Jewish companies in the USA, like manischevitz. And, yes, we are indeed Jewish. My mom’s maiden name is Cohen. Try hanging out with some real Menches, they BDS all day long. No effect on the bottom line? Ho man chi? that is not what I read, I heard all the economic ministers and business people want Netanyahus head on a platter.

    • DaBakr on November 9, 2015, 8:34 pm

      @ns

      stick with being unimportant and boycotting companies that are US and ‘Jewish’. I think you will find that you are way past the ‘official’ intention of BDS and off into your own bigoted fantasy world. Make sure you ‘boycott’ all the products invented or sold by Jews-both US and Israeli. Good luck with that.

      • Mooser on November 9, 2015, 11:18 pm

        “off into your own bigoted fantasy world.”

        Gott in Himmell “Dabakr”! Is that how you meet and greet a landsmann?
        A fellow who wears the old schul tie!
        Ms. Tribal Unity would be appalled by your attitude.
        And I thought Zionism was something we could all unite over. It’s not like we’re throwing a unity banquet, inviting you, and when you get there, serving you Arab food.

      • echinococcus on November 10, 2015, 12:44 am

        What a disgrace to himself the Bakr is… This time with the other brand new law that doing something recommended by this or that movement binds you to limit your range of activity to the limits expressed by that movement. The fact of getting in the subway to the Bronx bars me from taking the bus from there to Westchester.
        If I were the Yahoo I’d bar the simple-minded from Zionist propaganda, leaving it to only the likes of JVP.

      • echinococcus on November 10, 2015, 12:47 am

        Who ever called for a boycott of anything “Jewish”, Da Bakr? Really. the censors seem to allow anything by Zionist crazies.

      • RoHa on November 10, 2015, 4:13 am

        “the old schul tie!”

        You’ve produced some good ones, but I’m tempted to class that one as primus inter pares.

      • inbound39 on November 10, 2015, 6:28 am

        Dabakr…your statement is like a million other hasbarists. What you do not realise is the little Israel produces compared to World output would not be missed. Anything Israeli’s do the rest of the World can already do or Israel copied it. Not many people want to be like an Israeli though…..maybe you can think of a creative piece of Hasbara to reply to that one. Indulge us….amuse us some more. No-one does comedy better than a hasbarist…..they generally don’t realise how humorous they are because they are too busy taking a joke seriously.

      • Mooser on November 10, 2015, 11:50 am

        “I’m tempted to class that one as primus inter pares

        Tweren’t nothin’, “RoHa”, it just seemed like the mot jewste at the moment.

  4. amigo on November 9, 2015, 5:23 pm

    For those of you with 20 minutes to spare , take a stroll back to 2001 and read this letter by Edward Said.

    Here is just a small sampling that illustrates just how, the more things change the more they stay the same.

    “On 29 September, the day after Ariel Sharon, guarded by about a thousand Israeli police and soldiers strode into Jerusalem’s Haram al-Sharif (the ‘Noble Sanctuary’) in a gesture designed to assert his right as an Israeli to visit the Muslim holy place, a conflagration started which continues as I write in late November. Sharon himself is unrepentant, blaming the Palestinian Authority for ‘deliberate incitement’ against Israel ‘as a strong democracy’ whose ‘Jewish and democratic character’ the Palestinians wish to change. He went to Haram al-Sharif, he wrote in the Wall Street Journal a few days later, ‘to inspect and ascertain that freedom of worship and free access to the Temple Mount is granted to everyone’, but he didn’t mention his huge armed entourage or the fact that the area was sealed off before, during and after his visit, which scarcely ensures freedom of access. He also neglected to say anything about the consequence of his visit: on the 29th, the Israeli Army shot eight Palestinians dead. What everyone ignored, moreover, is that the natives of a place under military occupation – which East Jerusalem has been since it was annexed by Israel in 1967 – are entitled by international law to resist by any means possible. Besides, two of the oldest and greatest Muslim shrines in the world, dating back a millennium and a half, are supposed by archaeologists to have been built on the site of the Temple Mount – a convergence of religious topoi that a provocative visit by an extremist Israeli general was never going to help to sort out. A general, it’s as well to recall, who had played a role in a number of atrocities dating back to the 1950s, and including Sabra, Shatila, Qibya and Gaza.

    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v22/n24/edward-said/palestinians-under-siege

  5. lonely rico on November 9, 2015, 8:13 pm

    >hophmi at 11:59 am

    Gee hophmi – 455 words !
    Intense effort hophmi, VERY impressive.
    And all for BDS, which just isn’t working and ain’t that important.
    Four “Big deals” + a LOL.
    No problem there for the state of Israel.
    Ho-hum.

    Here I thought BDS might get Israel straightened up, respecting international law, ending the racism, theft, criminal brutality; justice and dignity for the Palestinians.

    And to to think Nadia Abu El Haj teaches at a school which receives money from the government guilty of all those war crimes. I guess the hophmi will be BDS’ing the USA, pressuring the Israeli government to refuse all future aid from Amerika.

    • hophmi on November 10, 2015, 12:14 pm

      YOU’RE the one in favor of BDS, lonely rico. So it’s your responsibility to show that your boycott isn’t selective discrimination, not mine.

      • annie on November 10, 2015, 12:30 pm

        it’s your responsibility to show that your boycott isn’t selective discrimination, not mine.

        how do you figure that? aren’t you the one speculating bds is selective discrimination? lonely rico is not obligated to refute a claim you’ve not established.

      • CigarGod on November 10, 2015, 12:39 pm

        Geez, Hophmi…there’s that logic problem again.
        You don’t have to worry about any pie-throwing from me…you face-plant pretty good all by yourself.

      • CigarGod on November 10, 2015, 12:42 pm

        Silly Rabbit,
        If you say there are flying saucers, it’s up to you to prove it.

  6. pabelmont on November 9, 2015, 10:59 pm

    Why do Israeli Jewish Lefties (IJLs) object to BDS?

    I imagine that IJLs for the most part are unaccepting of BDS because of the call for (full) return. Some IJLs might be OK with equality for all citizens of Israel and for an end of occupation. After all, if they are lefties, they are probably not settlers or territorial-maximalists.

    But there I go pretending to speak for them! Oops! I’m not an IJL. No siree. even though I admired Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim.

    About that first point, full-PRoR. Those IJLs that I’m so busy imagining are not consoled by the thought or the hope that in practical terms not too many Palestinians would elect to return. Indeed, who really knows what would happen if a full-PRoR were in place?

    So let’s be honest. Full-PRoR is scary for our friend the IJL because Israel could be overrun and the population could shift toward 50-50 or even into Palestinian Arab majority. Sure, and why not? Jews poured in from Russia and Brooklyn, and maybe from the West Bank settlements if they are closed, and Palestinians had a lot of “natural increase”, the very thing that proponents of ever-expanding settlements make so much of and so favorably as if “natural increase” did no harm (in the case of Jewish settlement babies only, of course). Sauce for the goose!

    Of course, we could always ask our friend the IJL if the Israel he wants to save has to be a big place geographically! Yes, we should ask him that.

    Because if he can make do with a smaller place, then there’d be fewer Palestinian Arabs seeking to return there under a full-PRoR. Ask our IJL how he’d like a vastly-majority-Jewish ghetto on 10% of 1948-Israel, and leave the rest (the other 90% plus G+LB) to the Palestinians.

    Summary: I fear that IJL does not want merely to save “Israel” — no, he wants to save Israel-as-it-is-now (majority Jewish and large-in-area). He gives little thought to the Palestinians.

    Well, tell him, that that’s the problem. He has various choices, and they all impose on the Palestinians!

    He can do shoah (like the Nazis). He can do depopulation (like the Israelis in 1948). Neither of these satisfies BDS and neither makes peace or even appears to.

    Or he can live on a smaller piece of land (as New York city residents do, and quite happily, as I can testify, and as my many Jewish friends can testify). Or he can live in a democracy with a not necessarily Jewish majority.

    Those are the only choices. There are none other than I can think of.

    Oops! Except of course for Netanyahu’s choice: Apartheid forever. Yes that’s another choice. But needless to say , it doesn’t satisfy BDS. I wonder how if satisfies our IJL!

    And, of course, he has a personal choice: he can do what I suspect most former IJLs have long since done. He can abandon any pretence whatever of being a Lefty. In that case, apartheid-now-and-forever will seem rather natural to him.

    • talknic on November 10, 2015, 12:55 am

      Like all of Israel’s existential threats and demands and excuses and justifications, the demographic threat to Israel because of RoR is quite simply bullsh*t! Like all their other bullsh*t, they depend on people not thinking.

      Israel is no different from any other country on the planet when it comes to the law.

      Only Israel’s non-Jewish Israeli citizens citizens have a right to return to the Israeli territory they left in 1948.

      Today they and their lineal descendants are by far outnumbered by Jewish Israelis. There is no demographic threat to Israel. In fact, by 1950 even if every non-Jewish Israeli and their lineal descendants returned, there was no demographic threat because Israel’s Jewish population had already swelled far beyond the threat ratio and;

      Like every other country on the planet, non-Israelis quite simply do not have RoR to Israel.

      They do however have RoR to territories the Israeli Government on May 22nd 1948 officially stated were “outside the State of Israel” … “in Palestine”, none of which has yet been legally acquired by Israel through any legal mechanism or agreement.

      The threat is to Israel losing what it has stolen. Losing the resources therein and the taxes. The fear of having to withdraw to its actual borders, taking its very unhappy and duped citizens with it, resettling them, paying out huge class actions they will want for having been victims of 67 years of lies and and paying 67 years of compensation for damages, illegally exploited resources, hardship etc to the Palestinians that would make the German Holocaust reparations look like small change.

      Israel would deservedly become a failed state on a monumental scale

      • hophmi on November 10, 2015, 12:18 pm

        “Only Israel’s non-Jewish Israeli citizens citizens have a right to return to the Israeli territory they left in 1948.”

        Jews were ethnically cleansed from Jerusalem neighborhoods in 1947/48. They have the same right of return. Otherwise, call it what it is: just a anti-Israel talking point.

        “Israel would deservedly become a failed state on a monumental scale”

        We know; that’s your plan, to make Israel a failed state, in which Jews are murdered for who they are.

      • Mooser on November 10, 2015, 12:27 pm

        “taking its very unhappy and duped citizens with it, resettling them, paying out huge class actions they will want for having been victims of 67 years of lies and and paying 67 years of compensation for damages, illegally exploited resources, hardship etc to the Palestinians that would make the German Holocaust reparations look like small change.”

        I have never seen any plan which accommodates that fact. Except, the “bust-out scheme” of course.

    • echinococcus on November 10, 2015, 6:38 am

      Pabelmont,

      You forget two more choices for the IJL: accept full and loyal Palestinian citizenship (if offered) or go back to hisher own country.

    • hophmi on November 10, 2015, 12:15 pm

      “I imagine that IJLs for the most part are unaccepting of BDS because of the call for (full) return.”

      I think it has something to do with the fact that boycotting Jews has a long and nefarious history, and that, generally, people don’t boycott their own society. That why American BDS activists don’t BDS America. It’s a NIMBY thing.

      • echinococcus on November 10, 2015, 9:24 pm

        Hophmi,

        Looks like you’ve been around since 2010-04-19 03:21:04 and blessed this house with no fewer than 7,593 pearls of wisdom.

        You still don’t understand the difference between “Jews”, followers of a given religion (and, for the racially-minded, an imaginary tribe) on the one hand, and “Zionists”, a political movement of murderous invaders and thieves on the other. My five-year-old granddaughter gets it without a problem.

        What’s wrong with your cognitive capacity? BDS targets the Zionist Entity, not Jews. It gets an undesirable following of Zionists, too.

      • Kay24 on November 11, 2015, 7:35 am

        Really, I have NOT read anywhere that BDS is targeting Jews. You must stop trusting the hasbara talking points, it is making people look out of touch and full of self pity. Anyone squatting in illegal settlements, whether Jews, Muslims, or Christians, have to face consequences.

        ps. Don’t worry the US will see that the Jews will always be okay, after all we work hard to make sure we protect all Jews in Israel.

  7. Ossinev on November 10, 2015, 6:50 am

    DeBakr
    “Make sure you ‘boycott’ all the products invented or sold by Jews-both US and Israeli. Good luck with that.”

    For info I have been boycotting Zionism`s main export , Hasbara , for decades .It`s fairly easy I have to admit because before the end of the first sentence my stomach invariably starts to heave.

    The only reason that I can keep my stomach contents down when reading your drivel is that it is what I would call “hyper hasbara”. It is so hilarious – my problem is not struggling to contain my stomach contents it`s struggling to stop pissing with laughter.

    Keep the up the good work and do ask for a pay rise from Hasbara admin – you deserve it.

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