bds doesn’t target individuals.
But I do. I don't see why I should support individuals who are OK with genocidal tactics. I don't always know what individuals believe or think, but when I do and it is abominable to me, I find that time and effort can be spent in many ways other than supporting or just interacting them. That includes art, culture, science and technical figures who may not be associated directly with the Israel government.
I boycott the language, as I said, because to me it's become the language of persecution and war crimes. Kind of like German became for many who escaped Europe when nazis came to power.
The language is the most important tool and carrier of culture. When one chooses to toss a language, tsuch culture that became associated with it is pretty much gone as well, except in translation, which is always weak tea.
needless to say, that's not what I offer as an excuse for not caring to speak hebrew to other speakers of the language, Though what I do offer is not untrue either. Absence of practice in a language can lead to it acquiring that stultifying wooden feel. Mine feels too calcified to feel truly fluent any longer, which makes listening to the excuses offered by israelis and ex-Israelis for supporting whatever version of the ongoing abominations they support a chore that's best avoided. It's better for them - and tolerable for me - to offer their excuses for going along with whatever part of criminal policies and perfidous world views they share in English, where at least they can't hide their moral bankruptcy under "charming" colloquialisms.
Still, when it comes to individuals, I often make the effort to find out where they are on what. Sometimes I am very pleasantly surprised. That's the best I can say.
I agree that it is high time to boycott everything that can be boycotted in Israel, including products, companies, scientific exchanges, joint programs, sporting and cultural events and companies that do business there. Now, this may be a tall order as israel has done quite well for itself in getting integrated with run of the mill companies in the US and elsewhere. However, I'd say the approach should be one of practicality. As in boycott whatever is possible.
I see no reason that collaborations with israeli scientists and institutions or companies for example cannot be curbed, on a case by case basis. No need to stop it all. Same with the arts. One need not go to extremes to have an effect. After all, we all like some people better than others. And we value certain contributions over others. WE make those choices all the time in our lives anyways. For some, it may be enough to not buy products labeled as coming from israel whenever there is an alternative. Cosmetic products are a good example - there are quadzillion products out on the market and there's absolutely no reason the israeli ones cannot be avoided. Same with food products, and pharmaceuticals.
I believe the one kind of boycott likely to be most effective is the personal one. While BDS as an organized entity goes after specific organizations and companies, individuals can just do little things. Like "forget" to invite speakers when choices are many, or a dance group or choose another collaboration when there are alternative options.
I admit to being extremely conflicted about music, however. Classical musicians have hard enough time making a living and boycotting ones who hail from israel may be truly counterproductive, as Israel is one of the countries trying to keep up the spirit and practice of classical music.
So perhaps, in this case, I will make an exception, because music trumps everything in my book. And other individuals can each make their own exceptions too. After all, we all know people in israel that we admire for their principled stand against the occupation, and we mustn't pull the rug from under their feet.
But the point remains, that many individuals, each making their own decisions on what and where to boycott, will have an effect. Indeed, this may be the most effective way to go about it, in a way no different from the way society started frowning on smoking and/or littering the parks long before the actual laws were enacted. Let your friends, family and acquaintancies know where you stand, even if gently and without making a big to do. I think that many small acts of omission can go long ways towards making a dent, even as Israel's lawfare will find it difficult to prove anything concrete.
Personally, this is what I have been doing for a long time now. It is not always easy, especially because one of the things I have chosen to boycott is the Hebrew language and Hebrew literature. I have done that with the greatest of sadness as Iosing a language - deliberately or otherwise - is never fun.
ANNIE, thanks for taking the time to reply. Your perspective is always welcome, even when I disagree with some of the coloring, if not the essence.
it’s not primarily up to the jewish world to get a conscience, it’s up to the american polity to get a conscience. because nothing will change until we change as a nation. that won’t be up to a minuscule minority, and believing it will amounts to a capitulation to the whims of that community. the very act of changing the definition of anti semitism is part of a dare i say conspiracy to silence critics.
I do understand where you are coming from, and I would be the last person to discourage non-Jewish Americans from participating and hopefully influencing, the conversation. But that last word "conversation" is where I see the problem, because to me it seems that that's all we are doing - having a conversation. may be a debate. You seek what's nowadays called "influencers" I think among run of the mill Americans. So they can share their budding conscience about what's really being done to the palestinians, and the worse that is in the planning. I wish I could agree with you that we, as Americans, could change enough as a nation to resist the untoward nefarious influence of a troublesome minority, the worst of the Jews. The worst who we hear from often, or we see rise to positions of power, like one jared Kushner. No great intellect there, but he does represent an influencial group among the jews. And as we can all see, he is now married into the presidency. The Americans hear and see a heck of a lot more from Kushner than of Chomsky, don't they?
You know many good and caring Americans of heart and conscience. But unfortunately that's not the majority, and as someone who just recently had a raucous debate with a Christian zionist, I can honestly claim I see little hope of revisionism there. Last I heard there are 20 millions of them and they all believe in the second coming preceded by the apocalypse, which strangely enough, they are OK with.
personally I feel that sometimes good people fall into the trap of buying into hope and change. Didn't we all buy into that not so long ago? You may know many great people, but perhaps not enough of the not so great ones, the ones that really can't be bothered with complicated stuff, like conscience.
I do, Btw, often have this kind of discussions with people on the Progressive side. The left-of-bernie people who reject identity issues as the main course, opting for the economic equations instead. They too hope against hope. To them too I appear as a modern day cassandra. Predicting defeats while battles are still waged. It is an unfortunate predicament to be the one who has to offer dire prognosis even as I support any and all who fight the good fight.
So, I pick my battles where I feel there are some wins to be had. And those happen to be on the jewish side. Which I treat as the "influencers" in the battles of the narratives. Those wins Btw, minor though they may be, are there precisely because I also know where the vulnerable spots are. And those are found in the collective history, the tribal ties that bind and the narratives that tie religion to culture to history and to fears both rational and otherwise.
now you tell me, why silence non jewish critics if the only critics who matter are the jewish ones? you have to change the masses.
No-one is suggesting silencing non-Jewish critics. The opposite is true. I, unlike many around here, rather welcome their perspectives. I just think they operate from a position of weakness precisely because their comments can be disappeared, their voices misinterpreted and their motivations forever questioned (which I'm sure you have run into). This is exactly the situation Keith was complaining about with regard to his held up comments. Not knowing what those were, I'll hazard a guess that I made much worse, without a problem.
You may laugh away specious ccusationsof some would-be 'anti-semitism", but apparently many people don't. It hurts them and they more often than not turn away from the unpleasantness of it all. Yes, they'll be there to support the cause, but they'll do so silently, and only when when someone else leads the way.
once the evangelicals flip (and they will as this younger generation of them is moving in that direction) then israel’s going to have a real problem on it’s hands. and evangelicals won’t be flipping because jews told them too, they will follow their own leaders, heavily influence by people like Naim Ateek aka sabeel.
I know quite a few evangelicals young and old where I live now. I see little signs of anyone turning. The best I can say is that their numbers don't seem to be increasing. But that's a conversation for another day.
what does “hearing palestinians on their own terms” have to do with your frustrations with mondoweiss?
I'll try and help sort this out (not that Keith authorized me to sort anything out, but I'll try anyways), with a couple of points:
1. Yes, MW has given plenty of space to Palestinians voices and kudos for that. But have you noticed how few comments those articles gather? surely not because the stories are not poignant enough or not relevant. The reason is much simpler - there is next to nothing anyone feels they can do about some of those very sad stories 9and they are nearly always sad. tragic even). There is no disagreement on the facts. There are no questions to be raised. There are only lamentations and empathy to offer (and again, it's great that some do that). Frankly, we all know we are witnessing an enormous tragedy in the making. We also have very little to offer in the face of it other than words of comfort, which not everyone is good at finding. We, and MW, are basically serving as witnesses. Just as some did to that other Holocaust that happened many decades ago.
2. That being said - the overarching feeling by most who read MW is that the Palestinians can only be helped from without - by changing the hearts of American jews and shocking them with well administered doses of reality. Basically - ask anyone who cares about what's happening to the palestinians and they will tell you that it is largely up to the Jews of the world to get enough conscience to do what needs to be done, to set a new tone to the discourse. The jews and their leaders are needed to help America out of the conundrum of knee-jerk support of israel. I know the many Americans who are not Jewish have of course a big role to play as well, and some do try their utmost. But most (the majority) are terrified of coming out against the prevailing jewish voice because - stupid or otherwise, they fear the anti-semite label. MW is one of the few places to which commenters come - Jewish and not - who are willing to say it like it is, or at least they used to. because the finger of blame points not only at israel but at its No. 1 enablers who continue to cover for its worst atrocities and misdeeds.
So, I guess my interpretation of keith's comment is that by abandoning the discussions about Jewish history and culture as contributing factors to the great evil that israel is perpetrating, MW may be relinquishing the only battleground where at least some modest victories can be had. Phil's pieces - like this one - seem to be among the few taking on the Jewish discourse in America in all its distortions of the narrative about palestine and Israel.
I realize that the discussions about jewish culpability in the atrocities israel is committing can become toxic rather quickly. But perhaps the toxicity itself is a critical part of the problem. The Jewish movers and shakers and opinion writers like nothing more than to continue and wring their hands about the "sad state of affairs" while doing nothing of substance. Ultimately, it is the Jews that must first turn on Israel, because only then will others who are not Jewish dare to protest en mass. Enough so to have the least impact on Israel.
The proof of what I say is really right before us as we speak - look at the pressure exerted on the four new progressive house members. Just look at it. Yes, it's coming from AIPAC that no one here tracks with, but it wouldn't succeed if many more who are not AIPAC were not so silently sheepish.
FWIW, I kind of miss the old vibrant and rowdy comment section of MW. It may have not always been pleasant but it fulfilled a purpose, IMO. Where else could such discussions take place? and must we all be basically reduced to an endless litany of lamentations?
I can probably confirm that the theme of vengeance permeates Israeli society so deeply that it cannot be rationally separated into layers. It's there all the time, one undercurrent among many others, seamlessly connecting every persecution that was ever visited upon any Jews anywhere. The way this comes to pass is simple: imbue every study of history and every bible class with the recurrent tales of jewish suffering, colorfully illustrated and tied up with the larger history of whatever place, whatever bad thing happened to whatever jewish community.
The suffering inflicted upon the jews is always presented as a direct result of their Jewishness. This idea is reinforced over and over with the notion that this persecution is foundationally irrational. What rationales may have existed anywhere for pogroms or for exiles or for ghettoization are usually brushed aside with a sentence or two, leaving behind an impression that for the goyim, persecuting jews and anti-semitic manifestations of antipathy towards jews, were all in a day's work.
As students go through the grades in Israel, the European history of the Jews, up to and including the Holocaust is tied together with the wars against Palestinians in Israel. The Jewish victims, like the jewish soldiers, wearing the white hats. Everyone else is black hat, with all the different tales - in their excruciating details - merging together until the boundaries between them dissolve in the mind's eye.
That's how the natural desire for vengeance due to unjust persecution so easily transforms facelss nazis into Abaya clad Palestinians. To the observer outside israel, this may not always be obvious. Not even to jewish people who were steeped in stories of progroms in Poland and nazi Holocaust. Kossacks on horseback, booted Nazis, Catholic bishops in Castille leading Jews on their auto-da-fe, Romans laying siege to Massada and Keffiah wearing fedayeen attacking a Kibbutz, all meld together into a single tapestry.
AS you study all that suffering, with all the gory imagery laid out several times over in the course of K-12 education, you grow a core of inexplicable hatred and desire for revenege that take residence in the deeper recesses of the heart. It is that core which allows israelis to have next to no compassion towards Palestinians.
I lay the blame squarely at the feet of israel's education system that is designed to instill just that kind of coldness towards others who are cast into the role of adversaries. Never mind the reasons for the adversity. It's enough that they be painted as ones who'd do the jews harm, whether true or not. That is how young 18 year old people can shove an old woman down the stairs and terrorize children. That is how they can kill young men - and women - without batting an eyelash. Without the core of cold steel buried in the heart, they might shed a tear or two, and god forbid, hesitate.
The loss of compassion born from deliberate shrinking of comprehension for the human condition is one of the great tragedies that happened to the Jewish people of israel (and by extension to many of their zionist sympathizers outside). Unfortunately for them all, the absence of empathy and respect for universal human rights is also how Judaism lost its soul, and became nazified.
Rabbi Heschel, and others like him, who sought to contribute to a Jewish theology mired in the religious, are, have become, irrelevant. Their thoughts, their writings, their descriptions of jewish life are doomed to be read by ever fewer, relatively speaking. Even in Israel, of the majority of the great Jewish writers, who were concerned with the 'Jewish' part of the vauned 'Jewish life' (ie, not so much with 'life'), only those who specialize in Jewish studies read them, and even then it is but a cursory reading for most who are not scholars. A few excerpts make their way into a High School text here and there, but those are quickly forgotten, submerged in a much larger pool where it is the tweets from the likes of Zuckerberg that are considered "essential readings".
Worse yet, Ellis' visions of the prophetic, as opposed to the exilic, as values to live by, are also doomed to the book shelves of the few studious one who still have books.
Unfortunately for the Jews of the world, their tradition of the Jewish, something many sought to equate with the universal and the humanistic, have fallen into disrepute. Indeed, with the spectre of the evil ultra-racist, bigotted and rudeness exporting israel looming above everything else, those few good books stand as sad witnesses to the decline and corruption of Judaism itself. Not just as a religion, but as a way of life - now equated mostly with oppression, authoritarianism, ethnic supremacy and nastiness towards one's fellow humans.
In one of the great ironies of history, Israel which sought to be seen as a "light unto the nations" has become equated with a "blight upon [western] civilization". That is not only a tragedy but is a fabulous fable about arrogance and its spiritual demise.
as long as they can sign up Russia (who netty has been getting real pals with lately)
Appearances notwithstanding, I wouldn't be so sure about the chumminess here. Russia does what it has to do to keep Israel calm about Syria. They got essentially a guarantee that they will not interfere when the operation by the SAA to recover Daraa province was going on. That took some doing.
The way Russian do things is "first things first". Their main purpose now is to secure Syria - especially all the main population centers. It may seem like they are giving way to israel, but everyone knows that these two - israel and Russia - are heading towards a conflict. A major one over Iran. That's why yahoo keeps taking little trips to Moscow. And he keeps receiving more vague "assurances' that Iran will not get "too close", which is left to be defined by each party as they wish.
FWIW, some have already pointed out that the current villification of Russia, and Putin in particular, that's part of the propaganda machine in the US, has tacit israeli - and Jewish support (no, not from the progressive wing, of course, which recognizes the Muh Russia thing to be the hoax that it is). There is a strong "behind the scenes" anti-Russia PR effort that Israeli elements are part of. Right along with many from the Russian-Jewish-American community. They all have their reasons of course, but ultimately, israel knows that it is up to Russia - and with it China - to circumscribe its dire plans vis-a-vis Iran. So they know that it was Russia that upended their plans (concoted with Saudi-Arabia/US/Qatar with Turkey as a side party) about regime change in Syria. They have seen the military capabilities Russia displayed in Syria as well as the general competence demonstrated by its strategic approach, where military success is accompanied by diplomatic/reconciliation efforts.
So Israeli planners know very well (at least as well as I do) that ultimately Russia is the biggest impediment to their nefarious plans. A Russia supported by China is a formidable adversary, of course (and the Chinese are busy playing their own little games re israel, but that's another story). But right now everyone is in a state of pause.
An aside: the pause will be broken once Turkey decides whether it wants to change camps. That's why the idlib and Lathakia plans are on hold (or seem to be). naturally, Trump administration is doing what it can to push Turkey away, so waiting seems by far the wisest policy.
I look at things a bit differently.
Asking a candidate for office - who has not yet been elected! - to weigh in on one vs two-state solution is ludicrous. What kind of an expectation is that, when the Palestinians themselves have still not come out in force one way or another, and when we - who unlike AOC - know quite well what's really going on - are still arguing about this or that version of whatever? and when someone like Finkelstein is on the record as saying - nah, the only international consensus is on some 2-state illusion....
Someone earlier pointed out that the 2 -state "solution" is a chimera, and that it is. The Israelis have no intention of going through with any "sensible" solution along these lines. On the contrary, the israelis have every intention of annexing Area C in the near future (ie, as soon as they judge they can get away with it, politically speaking). That as the power wielding Jewish donors in the US have every intention of keeping the charade of some ephemeral "2-state" up for as long as possible. Of course, not so for the up and coming and the wide awake other Jewish Americans, some of whom are younger and some just prey to reason and sanity. But this later cohort does not hold the purse strings, and opine as much as they want to, ultimately it is the donors that make whatever political reality they want to. just as donors do in every other area that's ever been brought up for political debate in the great US of A.
AOC, like Bernie, needs to walk this tight rope carefully to survive politically. She just got a rude introduction to the"facts of life" of a US politician. Much like the Palestinians, the American politician - even a new fresh face - ARE NOT the masters of their own fate, or their publicly stated opinions. Doesn't matter AOC did not avail herself of corporate monies. The pressure of the lobbies is exerted with or without it. There are ways, as anyone familiar with the mafia knows to get "action" on the political front. Which in the US is every bit as corrupt as the mafia ever was, except that unlike the mafia it pretends there is actually a Democracy somewhere. Whatever. . Poor AOC, I almost feel for her, because I/P is just the beginning of her true political education, which includes, unfortunately for her, learning to swim in the swamp, while holding one's nose. It's kind of a bargain with the devil, but heck, what's the alternative, some would say (some who are not me + a few other poor souls)?
Soon she'll find out that she better come out with the "Mah Russia" line. At best she can "finness" it, though this may not be enough. And that, of course, it just wouldn't do to mention Yemen. Neither would it be so 'smart" to point to the monstrous military budget (with all its tentacles) is the very one to cough up the dough for eg, medicare for All. No other place, as it's all been cut to the bone already.
One can go on, but for her sake and for the sake of future progressive candidates, I can only hope she'll l;earn the tricks of the rope tight walk, or else she might have to join in on that rope-a-dope, known as "American Politics".