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Israeli ambassador devotes much of his speech to small group of protesters outside

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The pro-Israel campus group Students Supporting Israel (SSI) continued in its tradition of inviting right-wing Israeli Zionists to Columbia University on Monday night, hosting Consul General of Israel and leader of the settler movement Ambassador Dani Dayan.

Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD), a partnership between Students for Justice in Palestine of Columbia and Columbia/Barnard’s Jewish Voice for Peace, responded with a small, non-disruptive protest aimed at informing fellow Columbia students about Israel’s larger illegal settlement project, which Dayan represents.

“[Dayan] and what he stands for is so egregious it’s actually a pretty easy thing to move people on,” a Palestinian CUAD member who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution told me. “Dayan doesn’t have many pretensions about what he stands for, [which] is the violent, ongoing and perpetual exploitation and occupation of Palestinian land.”

“That he’s so unabashed about it, that’s what’s disturbing to me,” the individual added.

Indeed, Dayan formerly served as Chairman of the Yesha Council, the political lobby for the settlement enterprise, where he advocated for Israel’s official annexation of the West Bank.

Ten or so CUAD members mounted a mock-checkpoint and canvassed passersby, handing out flyers with Dayan’s own words quoted and brief statistics on settlements.

Though the group has been pushing the Columbia student government to pass a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) resolution, they’ve not had success thus far.

“It’s hard to know how BDS figures into people’s opinions,” Zak Aldridge of CUAD told Mondoweiss, but students, he said, are becoming more aware of CUAD and thus BDS.

Nationally and internationally as well, student bodies appear more and more sympathetic to Palestinians. But there still exists a lot of misinformation regarding the occupation and especially BDS.

“The operative association we’re trying to get is apartheid,” Aldridge added. To describe the Israeli occupation,“that’s a more salient term.”

Despite the many obvious similarities, Israel and its supporters seek to distance themselves from the label of an apartheid state. Israel’s hysterical response to BDS and the movement’s catalyzing support reflects a certain desperation. BDS is the Palestinian call for the boycott of Israel until it complies with international law and respects Palestinian human rights. It is based on the international boycott movement of South Africa that ultimately ended apartheid.

Some Hebrew-language media almost completely ignored Dayan’s hourlong lecture. Instead the Israeli press coverage instead focused on CUAD’s modest protest in what seems to reflect the same BDS hysteria.

According to a story published by Israel’s Channel 20there were “dozens of demonstrators from pro-Palestinian organizations [waiting] for Dayan.”

“Some wore keffiyehs, others carried signs against Israel” the report continues. “The protesters were not satisfied with the demonstration. They prepared an exhibit of a mock checkpoint in which some of them were disguised as IDF soldiers and others as Palestinians who underwent severe humiliation and violence on the part of the soldiers.”

The article even quotes Ophir Dayan, Dani Dayan’s daughter and a student at Columbia, as saying “the anti-Israeli organizations raised their ugly heads yesterday, and the organizations acting to promote freedom of expression tried to prevent lecturers and students from hearing an official representative of the State of Israel. And this pressure will continue to spread truth about Israel.”

Less than a paragraph was dedicated to the content of Dayan’s actual speech, though perhaps for good reason.

In between claims of varying inconsistency, Amb. Dayan found the CUAD protest quite impactful and as such, spent much of his hour-long address defending Israel from various criticisms.

“I can’t understand that the people who admire the ‘democracy’ (in air quotes) of Hugo Chavez and Nicolás Maduro on this campus don’t like Israeli democracy,” Dayan said, addressing fictional members of CUAD.

He continued claiming the protesters, whom he’s never met clearly, speak out against Israeli democracy but not against “the butcher of Damascus or genocider of Teheran.” 

“Our democracy is better than America” Dayan exclaimed. “You don’t have to register to vote in Israel, therefore there is no voter suppression in Israel.”

This statement diminishes the systemic racism directed by the state of Israel against Palestinians living within its borders and the more than 50 discriminatory laws used as enforcement of it. And while Dayan is technically correct that the 4 million or so Palestinians living in occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza do not have to register to vote, this is because they don’t have the right to vote.

On the subject of whether or not Israel is an apartheid state, Dayan used the example of apartheid South Africa to distance Israel from the term.

“All other countries sent huge fleets to Africa to enslave them,” Dayan said. “Israel is the only country in the world to liberate black Africans and to send them to safety and to absorb them into our society.”

Just two days before Ambassador Dayan spoke at Columbia, Israel began proceedings to forcibly deport some 20,000 male African asylum seekers to Rwanda, despite the fact that the majority of Israel’s African population are Eritrean and Sudanese. The state has indicated it will likely deport women and children in the same manner.

One Columbia student from Israel took issue with the term apartheid. Anat Kamm is obtaining her masters in business and economy at Columbia Journalism School, after having served two years in prison in Israel as a whistleblower; in 2008 she leaked sensitive documents exposing the IDF’s targeted killing of two unarmed Palestinians and subsequent cover up.

Asserting that she has done more towards ending the occupation “than all the Ivy League spoiled kids playing with activism we saw outside Mr. Dayan’s lecture,” Kamm told me in an email that the protesters “either don’t know what apartheid is or what the situation is.”

Her explanation:

“In an apartheid state, some sectors of the population are segregated and not given full civil rights from the government. This discriminative attitude from the state toward its civilians is usually based on race. The situation in Israel and the Occupied Territories is different. The Palestinians indeed are segregated and don’t enjoy Israeli citizens’ rights, but that is because they are not Israeli citizens. Israeli has not annexed Judea and Samaria and they are not counted as part of Israel, nor do their habitants citizens of Israel. The Arab citizens of Israel are not segregated, there aren’t laws preventing their access to public services and institutes, and they enjoy full civil rights. Therefore, calling Israel ‘an apartheid state’ is wrong and misleading.”

Clarifying that she is “a leftist who supports ending the occupation of the West Bank,” Kamm noted that her two year service in the IDF showed her “how the occupation looks from the inside.” She continued, “The worst consequence [the protesters] suffered was standing outside on a cold New York evening.”

When I noted that four of the ten or so protesters with CUAD are in fact Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Kamm never responded.

About Jesse Rubin

Jesse Rubin is a freelance journalist from New York. Twitter: @JesseJDRubin

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12 Responses

  1. festus
    festus
    February 9, 2018, 12:18 pm

    The article even quotes Ophir Dayan, Dani Dayan’s daughter and a student at Columbia, as saying “the anti-Israeli organizations raised their ugly heads yesterday, and the organizations acting to promote freedom of expression tried to prevent lecturers and students from hearing an official representative of the State of Israel.

    Jewish privilege on display.

    Had anyone else referred to any Jews as raising their “ugly heads” all Hell would have broken loose.

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso
      February 10, 2018, 10:53 am

      “‘The Arab citizens of Israel are not segregated, there aren’t laws preventing their access to public services and institutes, and they enjoy full civil rights. Therefore, calling Israel ‘an apartheid state’ is wrong and misleading.’”

      Reality:

      “Former Foreign Ministry director-general invokes South Africa comparisons. ‘Joint Israel-West Bank’ reality is an apartheid state”
      EXCERPT: “Similarities between the ‘original apartheid’ as it was practiced in South Africa and the situation in ISRAEL [my emphasis] and the West Bank today ‘scream to the heavens,’ added [Alon] Liel, who was Israel’s ambassador in Pretoria from 1992 to 1994. There can be little doubt that the suffering of Palestinians is not less intense than that of blacks during apartheid-era South Africa, he asserted.” (Times of Israel, February 21, 2013)

      Video: Israeli TV Host Implores Israelis: Wake Up and Smell the Apartheid
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyyUvxHLYr4

      In its 2015 Country Report on Human Rights Practices for Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, the U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor acknowledges the “institutional and societal discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel.” (U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor)

      “Construction, Not Destruction”
      “While Israeli Arabs constitute 20 percent of the population, Arab communities’ jurisdictions occupy just 2.5 percent of the state’s land area, and the process of approving new construction in Arab towns takes decades.” (Haaretz Editorial, April 4, 2017)

      One example of apartheid within Israel:
      “Jewish town won’t let Arab build home on his own land ”
      Excerpt: “Aadel Suad first came to the planning and construction committee of the Misgav Local Council in 1997. Suad, an educator, was seeking a construction permit to build a home on a plot of land he owns in the community of Mitzpeh Kamon. The reply he got, from a senior official on the committee, was a memorable one. ‘Don’t waste your time,’ he reportedly told Suad. ‘We’ll keep you waiting for 30 years.’” (Haaretz, 14 December 2009)

      Ronnie Kasrils, a key player in the struggle against the former South African apartheid regime, minister for intelligence and a devout Jew: “The Palestinian minority in Israel has for decades been denied basic equality in health, education, housing and land possession, solely because it is not Jewish. The fact that this minority is allowed to vote hardly redresses the rampant injustice in all other basic human rights. They are excluded from the very definition of the ‘Jewish state’, and have virtually no influence on the laws, or political, social and economic policies. Hence, their similarity to the black South Africans [under apartheid].” (The Guardian, 25 May 2005)

      Shlomo Gazit, retired IDF Major General: “[Israel’s] legal system that enforces the law in a discriminatory way on the basis of national identity, is actually maintaining an apartheid regime.” (Haaretz, July 19, 2011)

      Israel is the only country in the world that differentiates between citizenship and nationality, i.e., “Israeli” nationality does not exist, only Jews and non-Jews, and each citizen carries an appropriate identity card. While the implications of this absurdity for discrimination and racism against non-Jews are obvious, it has been upheld by Israel’s Supreme Court.

      The effect of Israel’s blatantly racist “Citizenship Law” and more than fifty other restrictions Arab citizens have to endure is well expressed by writer and Knesset member, Ahmed Tibi,
      “…dutifully defining the state [of Israel] as ‘Jewish and democratic,’ ignores the fact that in practice ‘democratic’ refers to Jews, and the Arabs are nothing more than citizens without citizenship.” (Ma’ariv, 1.6.2005)

      Eminent Jewish Israeli journalist, Bradley Burston, aptly sums up the horrors Israel inflicts on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem:
      “Occupation is Slavery”
      EXCERPT:
      “In the name of occupation, generation after generation of Palestinians have been treated as property. They can be moved at will, shackled at will, tortured at will, have their families separated at will. They can be denied the right to vote, to own property, to meet or speak to family and friends. They can be hounded or even shot dead by their masters, who claim their position by biblical right, and also use them to build and work on the plantations the toilers cannot themselves ever hope to own. The masters dehumanize them, call them by the names of beasts.” (Haaretz, Feb. 26/13)

      • February 10, 2018, 3:45 pm

        Ya but at least we treat these primitive Arabs better than the Saudis treat women or gays or Yemenis so the hasbara goes.

  2. inbound39
    inbound39
    February 9, 2018, 4:16 pm

    Dayan is proof positive that no matter how hard Israeli’s try you cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

  3. Keith
    Keith
    February 9, 2018, 5:23 pm

    JESSE RUBIN- “The pro-Israel campus group Students Supporting Israel (SSI) continued in its tradition of inviting right-wing Israeli Zionists to Columbia University on Monday night, hosting Consul General of Israel and leader of the settler movement Ambassador Dani Dayan.”

    You will never, ever see ANTIFA protesting an Israeli fascist or American Zionist Jew such as Pam Geller.

    • JosephA
      JosephA
      February 9, 2018, 11:47 pm

      Let’s just call Pam Geller what she is: a disgusting racist. Or if you prefer, a disgusting zionist (I guess that would be a bit redundant, since zionism = racism, and racism is rather disgusting).

      There’s no need to identify her as Jewish when her beliefs clearly contradict the tenets of Judaism. Don’t lump her together with the silent and overwhelming majority of decent Jewish people who are not disgusting racists.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        February 10, 2018, 8:39 am

        This reminds me of those who have implicated all Nazi era Germans and Poles as disgusting racists.

      • February 10, 2018, 2:53 pm

        JosephA – agreed that the conflation of Judaism with Zionism is wrong although many argue that the two are inextricably linked. See for example

        http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/2017/10/9/judaism-zionism-and-conflation

        One question though, why are the “overwhelming majority of decent Jewish people who are not disgusting racists” so SILENT? Is it they are not given a platform to proclaim their equality with others like the Palestinians, or are they worried about the ire of the not so silent minority of Jewish racists or is it mere apathy or willful blindness (assuming one can be apathetic/willfully blind and decent at the same time)?

        Love to know how to get the overwhelming majority of decent nonracist Jewish people clamorous for peace and equality in historic Palestine – assuming this cohort exists.

        We need to hear from this silent overwhelming majority of Jewish Voices for Peace – perhaps one can start a group – IfNotNow when? Justice for the Palestinians depends on it.

      • Keith
        Keith
        February 10, 2018, 4:32 pm

        JOSEPHA- “There’s no need to identify her as Jewish when her beliefs clearly contradict the tenets of Judaism.”

        The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations is a Zionist umbrella group which lists 53 major Jewish organizations including the Rabbinical Assembly, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Union of Orthodox Jewish congregations of America and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. Are you claiming that these Judaic organizations contradict the tenets of Judaism? That you are the voice of Judaic purity? All of these Rabbis are apostate? https://www.conferenceofpresidents.org/about/members

      • Emory Riddle
        Emory Riddle
        February 11, 2018, 6:30 pm

        “Don’t lump her together with the silent and overwhelming majority of decent Jewish people who are not disgusting racists.”

        Let’s be honest, however. The vast majority of Jews consider themselves Zionists and think they have a right to “return” to Israel.

  4. JosephA
    JosephA
    February 10, 2018, 11:22 pm

    LHunter- I believe the average nonracist Jewish person is afraid to speak out against zionism or for Palestinian equal rights because they would be called “self-hating” Kapos by the likes of disgusting racists like the current US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.

    Keith- I didn’t realize Pamela Geller was the president of a major Jewish organization. I am certainly not the voice of Judaic purity, I just don’t like identifying sick, disgusting racists such as Pamela Geller as “Jews” when they can just as easily be identified using other characteristics. You know: bigot, zionist, demagogue, scoundrel, proponent of hate speech as identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Muslim-hater, political hack, etc.

    • MHughes976
      MHughes976
      February 12, 2018, 7:20 am

      I don’t doubt that the majority of Jewish people are shocked by Gellér and indeed very uncomfortable about the aggressive and brutal Netanyahu. But it’s still true and very disturbing for those who don’t want to be at serious moral variance with others along racial or religious lines that we are at variance with the Jewish majority who, despite their disclaiming G and even N, think Zionism an obvious moral truth.

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