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Ben Gurion University President Calls for Professor Supporting Israel Boycott to Quit

The only democracy in the Middle East™ seems to honor its democratic values only in the breach.  So much for academic freedom and freedom of speech Israel-style, when it comes to the case of Prof. Neve Gordon of Ben Gurion University.  He wrote an opinion piece in the L.A. Times this week, Boycott Israel, which announced his support for the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement.  While it hasn’t stirred any revolutionary fervor on the left, Gordon has struck a nerve on the Israeli right and among its fellow travelers here in the U.S.

CAMERA, the pro-Israel advocacy group, has called for the professor (“a veteran defamer of Israel”) to be put in the stocks and flogged (not literally).  The Israeli consul in Los Angeles has slyly encouraged a fundraising boycott against Ben Gurion among U.S. Jewish donors.  Arutz Sheva (“All Settlers All the Time”) notes that MKs “across the political spectrum” (translation: from the right to the extreme right) have called for Gordon’s head on a platter.

All this has apparently made BGU’s president quake in her boots.  University presidents are notoriously squishy when it comes to maintaining any strong sense of principle in the face of public attack.  Rivka Carmi is no exception.  Realizing she can’t fire Gordon, who has tenure (and chairs his academic department), she does the next best thing by inviting the ungrateful bastard to do a Pappe-Reinhardt (they were two Israeli professor-peace activists so ostracized within their universities that they were forced to secure teaching positions in England and New York respectively).  If you don’t like it here, get the hell out, she declares.  Then BGU would be well rid of the snake in the grass nipping at its heels.

Carmi shows remarkably little understanding of the meaning of the term “academic freedom” when she lets loose this quip:

BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi called Gordon’s views “destructive” and an “abuse [of] the freedom of speech prevailing in Israel and at BGU.

“We are shocked and outraged by [Gordon's] remarks, which are both irresponsible and morally reprehensible…

Since when is a professor publishing a legitimate point of view on a subject that falls within his academic specialty an “abuse” of free speech?  I would think she would recognize that this is precisely the epitome of it.  I also fail to see how supporting the boycott can be “morally reprehensible.”  She is again confusing a legitimate (albeit controversial) political-academic argument with morality.  This is a failing of reason on her part.  When one of her faculty publishes a political text with which she agrees and brings acclaim to BGU, then it is morally wholesome.  But when Gordon publishes a view Israeli politicians detest, then it becomes immoral, when in truth it has nothing whatsoever to do with morality.

I also found oddly counter-productive, the spin of BGU’s PR flack, who seemed to exaggerate the extent of the fundraising boycott against the University:

…The backlash to Gordon’s article…had…turned into a campaign for donors to pull funding from the university and was “snowballing…”

First, there is no indication whatsoever, except in a vague statement by Israel’s consul in L.A., that anyone was contemplating withholding funds from BGU.  Second, my impression always was that public spokespeople were supposed to put an institution’s best foot forward no matter what.  This statement would appear to violate Rule #1 of flackery.

Like her boss, BGU’s spokesperson has a faulty concept of freedom of speech:

“We’re proud to have a full range of political views at the university, and I want to live in a country that protects freedom of speech, but Gordon’s remarks are beyond the pale.

Isn’t the whole point of freedom of speech that there is no such thing as “beyond the pale” unless you’re advocating killing someone or some other serious crime?  And why is advocating a targeted boycott “beyond the pale?”  Who decreed that such a view was outside the norm of polite public discourse in Israel or the world?

The Jerusalem Post article closes with this passage which is meant to criticize Gordon, but fails to hit the mark:

Multiple attempts were made to reach Gordon on Sunday, but calls by the Post were not answered and messages were not returned.

Gee, I wonder why Neve might not be interested in talking to one of Israel’s nastiest and most right-wing scandal sheets?  Could it be he was concerned they might manipulate or distort his remarks?

The Post’s editorial on the subject (yes, an Israeli newspaper devoted an entire editorial to a single op-ed published in a U.S. newspaper) is all over the map.  It calls on BGU donors not to boycott the school.  But rather urges a different response:

The most apt response would be for contributors to endow a chair in Zionist studies in Gordon’s department, and for the university to fill it with a Zionist scholar of world renown.

The placement of the adjective “Zionist” is quite instructive: not a “scholar of Zionism” but a “Zionist scholar.”  Indeed, I would say there cannot be such a thing as a Zionist scholar for this is a violation of the detachment necessary for academic studies.  Certainly there can and should be scholars of Zionism.  But someone who is a Zionist scholar has already betrayed fundamental principles.  Must someone teaching Chinese studies be Chinese?  Must someone teaching Jewish studies be Jewish?  Of course not.  In fact, any school which set out such a rule would be blasted for it.  So the Post’s calling for the appointment of a scholar who is a confirmed Zionist should make BGU into a pariah.  But given the politicization of Israeli academia it will pass unremarked by all but bleeding hearts like Gordon, a few of his academic colleagues, and this writer.

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  • Alex Stein August 24, 2009, 2:57 AM
  • Richard Witty August 24, 2009, 3:03 AM

    He has a right to speak and write.

    I do get the outrage of a university administrator at a professor suggesting that the institution itself should be boycotted.

    Both assertions are ludicrous in a democracy.

    The BDS movement on academia and culture attempting to stop democratic discussion and expression in Israel by prohibiting access to and from.

    And, any effort to censor free expression by an academic, rather than criticize them.

    I think it is reasonable for even a university president to state, “I think these ideas are reprehensible and threatens this institution.” That is also free speech.

  • Violinist August 24, 2009, 6:17 AM

    Calling on an international boycott with “massive pressure” is a bit more than academic freedom in my view. It seems that he is using his position as a bully pulpit for attacking Israel as a whole.

    • fiddler August 24, 2009, 8:26 AM

      And what is the crime in that? If, in Neve Gordon’s opinion, the politics of Israel-as-a-whole are rotten, why can’t he attack them? It seems he’s enough attached to his country to stay, while wanting it to change, even fundamentally, for the better, and is trying to enlist foreign help in that endeavour. What’s wrong with that?

    • Richard Silverstein August 24, 2009, 11:45 AM

      I don’t think BDS is meant to “target Israel as a whole.” It is meant to target a specific objectionable Israeli policy & change it. When the policy ends the boycott ends.

      • Alex Stein August 24, 2009, 1:11 PM

        Richard – what’s the “specific objectionable Israeli policy” then?

        • fiddler August 24, 2009, 1:32 PM

          On the other thread you quoted a passage from PACBI, so one might have thought it possible you’d read the very first entry on their web site, from July 20, or the FAQ on the BDS web site for that matter…

          • Richard Silverstein August 24, 2009, 1:42 PM

            That’s OK. Alex likes to get a rise out of people. He prob. knew the answer before he asked the question (or if he didn’t he should have). He just wants to see what my response will be so he can stir up a debate or argument of some kind.

        • Richard Silverstein August 24, 2009, 1:33 PM

          Occupation.

          • Richard Witty August 24, 2009, 5:57 PM

            Of all of Israel/Palestine, of the 1949 temporary cease-fire frontier, of the 1948 ratified partition, of the 1947 proposed partition?

            You regard that as clear and specific?

      • fiddler August 24, 2009, 1:55 PM

        That depends obviously on one’s understanding of what Israel ought to be. If you’re a Jewish chauvinist then your idea of Israel as a whole might well stand or fall with Jewish supremacy over the whole land. An attack on the occupation is then seen as an attack on “Israel as a whole”, just like attacking apartheid in South Africa was seen by Afrikaaners as attacking the country at large, the end of civilisation.

  • DICKERSON3870 August 24, 2009, 7:58 AM

    RE: “BEN GURION UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT CALLS FOR PROFESSOR SUPPORTING ISRAEL BOYCOTT TO QUIT”

    MY COMMENT: “There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world,” wrote Victor Hugo, “and that is an idea whose time has come.”

  • LD August 24, 2009, 8:00 AM

    What else can be done to stop the continued colonization of what is left of Historic Palestine? Will the Palestinians ever get the Right of Return? Will Israel answer for all the injustices it has carried out?

    This is not a symmetrical war. This is one side (Zionists) who are immensely powerful versus a vastly weaker side (in every sense) – the Palestinians.

    Why is there a Jewish majority inside Israel? Because 800K Palestinians were expelled or fled their homes during the 48′ War and then were not allowed to return back.

    There is a tremendous lack of justice in this on-going war. There is a tremendous lack of intellectual honesty and sincerity in the debate.

    There are institutional pressures in the Western world that prohibit an honest and open discussion on the variables related to the I-P War (religion/identity politics/etc.).

    Israeli (Jewish) society is deeply racist (consistently) as shown by various studies. Racism is institutionalized. The violence and atrocities have always been overwhelmingly waged against the Palestinians.

    That’s on top of the Occupation which is a daily act of violence.

    And we’re sitting here debating whether an academic boycott is hard on *Israel*?

    And look at the rhetoric above:

    Violinist: “attacking Israel as a whole”

    Gosh, poor poor Israel. Why can’t we just leave it alone? It’s the only Jewish State in the world! There are so many Arab States! They are just defending themselves from radical Islamic terrorists who want nothing other than to kill Jews!

    This is all garbage. And it’s the same song and dance over and over again.

    There is no meaningful Left in Israel. Gordon is a rarity. He understands that within the context of non-violent resistance, this boycott is a necessity. Yes, of course people will be hurt by the boycott. So were South African Whites.

    It’s easy to bring that analogy up because we’re talking about a vague identity: “Whites.”

    “Whites” can be attacked and made to be easily dismissed as racists/oppressors. However, “Jews” cannot! And that fundamental difference in identities is what forms the parameters for debate on this issue.

    We can’t see the simple truth in front of us because we’re too concerned about offending official pieties.

    The BDS movement is the only way ordinary people can resist Zionist tyranny remotely effectively.

    It’s the only non-violent method. And it must be done. Israelis should stop serving in the military and stop occupying someone else’s land. They should advocate the rule of law and not simple law for Jews and legal spittle for Palestinians.

    I see Witty is spewing his nonsense here. He’s a protected user on Mondoweiss – Phil even made a blog entry months back defending Witty against the entire other userbase of the blog.

    Read the 2nd latest blog entry on Mondoweiss. Witty again – the polite fascist; completely corrupt – is disassembling for all to see.

    Zionists can have their Jewish character in their State – but it has to be symbolic and not practical. Any State should adhere to the principles of universality (like for example, people do not like having a religion enforced upon them, and they don’t like being forced out of their homes to make way for people who have no claim and ties to said land/property).

    It cannot be about Jewish exclusivity (the thrust of the abstraction; obviously, it won’t be all Jews only in Historic Palestine). It can be as Jewish a ‘State’ as the Queen of England is the ‘leader’ of England.

    People like Witty or other fascists (polite and impolite) are easy to spot.

    The Mondoweiss blog entry I mentioned is the perfect example of a news story on I-P being derailed by identity politics (Jewish this and Jewish that and how we shouldn’t hurt ‘the Jews’ and other insincere and intellectually dishonest diversions). The entire comment section is Witty going back and forth with everyone else on the blog. It’s not even about anything other than his rhetoric. Things I pointed out before Gaza. (I was vulgar though.)

  • Steve Gold August 24, 2009, 11:19 AM

    LD, if your going to write a post atleast be fair.
    There were just as many Jewish refugees from the Arab countries.
    Those Jews are not going back there or receiving a penny in lost property.
    All the Arab countries want to be Islamic countries.
    Whats wrong with Israel wanting to be the 1 Jewish nation.
    Keep in mind, Israel only has 20% of the actual British Mandate borders. The Arabs have 80%
    Jordan was part of the Mandate borders and no Jews are allowed to live there.

    • Richard Silverstein August 24, 2009, 12:28 PM

      I’ve approved this comment though it violates my comment rules. If you want to comment here read them. For the 1,000th time, this is not a site for the pro Israel right to score debating pts. in the eternal battle for the soul of Israel & the Jewish people. It’s even less a place for fraudulent, patently false pro Israel propaganda.

      So the next time you try to post the same type of comment it will be deleted until you understand what works & doesn’t work here.

    • LD August 24, 2009, 6:22 PM

      The Jewish refugee issue is vastly different from the Palestinian refugee issue. There is no meaningful comparison.

      Even if they were the exact same mechanisms involved and completely symmetrical, it would not excuse one or the other.

      Furthermore, ‘the Arabs’ do not have 80% of Jordan. The Jordanians have Jordan.

      Jews are allowed to live there. Where the heck did you figure they aren’t? Prove it!

  • Steve Gold August 24, 2009, 12:27 PM

    [comment deleted for violation of comment rules]

  • Alex Stein August 24, 2009, 1:40 PM

    Richard – it’s transparently clear that BDS movement goes beyond a call for the occupation to end. See the PACBI statement here – http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=869

    • Richard Silverstein August 24, 2009, 7:18 PM

      What exactly in this do you disagree with:

      Israel‘s colonial oppression of the Palestinian people, which is based on Zionist ideology, comprises the following:

      * Denial of its responsibility for the Nakba — in particular the waves of ethnic cleansing and dispossession that created the Palestinian refugee problem — and therefore refusal to accept the inalienable rights of the refugees and displaced stipulated in and protected by international law;
      * Military occupation and colonization of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza since 1967, in violation of international law and UN resolutions;
      * The entrenched system of racial discrimination and segregation against the Palestinian citizens of Israel, which resembles the defunct apartheid system in South Africa;

      • Alex Stein August 24, 2009, 8:11 PM

        Richard – this, as yet, is not about what I agree or disagree with. I didn’t think this was a discussion about whether we agreed with the BDS movement. I just wanted to be clear about what the BDS movement is about. If you acknowledge that the BDS is about more than just ending the occupation (as the above quotation shows), and wanted to do a post supporting the PACBI platform (I always thought you’ve sat on the fence regarding the boycott issue, at least in its cultural and academic forms, correct me if I’m wrong), then I’ll be very happy to discuss with you.

        • Richard Silverstein August 24, 2009, 9:47 PM

          We can argue about this till the cows come home which would be an utter waste of time. You & I & everyone reading this knows that the main issue is the Occupation. Once the Occupation ends, Israel withdraws to 67 borders, a Palestinian state is created–the lion’s share of the external issues will have been resolved. Even if BDS tried to stay in business after that it would not resonate with anyone except the diehards.

          I basically agree with the paragraphs I quoted concerning the flaws of Israeli society. They will have to be addressed internally after there is peace. But if Israel refuses to address issues of democracy & equality for all its citizens after a peace agreement, then it will have confirmed all of BDS’s agenda to have been absolutely correct.

          • Alex Stein August 24, 2009, 10:08 PM

            I agree with your analysis of the BDS movement; the point is it would be far more effective if it focused solely on the occupation.

          • Richard Silverstein August 24, 2009, 10:21 PM

            Now we’re getting somewhere. At least we agree on something important. As for whether it should focus solely on Occupation or not–I don’t pretend to decide strategy for Palestinians. They can do that quite well for themselves. They’ve decided this is the way to formulate their agenda. I don’t have a fundamental problem with their goals though I do find the tortuous set of “principles” by which they decide whether or not to boycott something somewhat dense.

            But nothing about this conflict is clear or easy so there’s no reason that BDS should be either.

  • Alex Stein August 24, 2009, 1:54 PM

    Richard – I’m not trying to get a rise; I’m simply showing the readers that your claim that the BDS movement simply seeks an end to the occupation is transparently false. This remains the case whether you choose to respond or not, and even remains despite the unnecessary jibes. The reason I’m repeating it is because the same misconception has now come up twice.

    • Richard Silverstein August 24, 2009, 7:13 PM

      your claim that the BDS movement simply seeks an end to the occupation is transparently false.

      I’m afraid the facts conspire against you:

      Since April 2004, PACBI has called upon intellectuals and academics worldwide to “comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel’s occupation….”

      • Alex Stein August 24, 2009, 8:08 PM

        Richard – it’s quite extraordinary that on one hand you post this and on the other hand you quote the bits of the PACBI declaration that contradict the obviously selective quotation. But that’s ok.

        • Shirin August 24, 2009, 10:52 PM

          What is extraordinary is that you manage somehow to see a contradiction between the two.

          • Alex Stein August 24, 2009, 10:59 PM

            Well I’ll explain:

            There’s a difference between

            a) Boycotting Israel until it withdraws to the 1967 lines

            and

            b) Boycotting Israel until it withdraws to the 1967 line, declares sole responsibility for the Nakba, and allows millions of Palestinian refugees to return to live in what is now the State of Israel.

          • Shirin August 24, 2009, 11:08 PM

            You are misrepresenting the statement in a most boringly standard hasbara manner. Been there, heard that, it’s bull****. You guys really have to come up with a new song. The one you keep repeating was never a hit to begin with, and it got tiresome a long time ago.

          • Alex Stein August 24, 2009, 11:10 PM

            Are you suggesting that PACBI does not want the Israelis to declare sole responsibility for the Nakba or does not want the refugees to have the right to return?

          • Shirin August 24, 2009, 11:17 PM

            Stop pretending that statement means more that its palin language states, and stop pretending that the Right of Return means that Israel would be polluted by being inundated with hordes of Arabs streaming into it.

          • Shirin August 24, 2009, 11:18 PM

            Plain language.

          • Alex Stein August 24, 2009, 11:35 PM

            “Stop pretending that statement means more that its palin language states, and stop pretending that the Right of Return means that Israel would be polluted by being inundated with hordes of Arabs streaming into it.”

            I’m not pretending anything of the sort. On the contrary, I’m emphasising exactly that the PACBI statement means what it says. It may be hard for you to notice thiswhile in a arge, but at this stage I haven’t made any value judgements whatsoever about the PACBI statement.

          • Shirin August 24, 2009, 11:47 PM

            The statement does not say what you insist it means.

          • Richard Silverstein August 24, 2009, 11:48 PM

            allows millions of Palestinian refugees to return to live in what is now the State of Israel.

            That’s not what the PACI statement says. It may be what it implies, but not what it says (& those are 2 entirely diff. things):

            …[Israel's] refusal to accept the inalienable rights of the refugees and displaced stipulated in and protected by international law;

            Rights may be exercised in many ways, not all of them involving returning to Israel to take up a piece of land from which one’s ancestors were expelled.

          • Alex Stein August 25, 2009, 12:00 AM

            We’re going round in circles here – I think we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  • LD August 24, 2009, 6:37 PM

    According to Alex Stein or Witty – there is (implied) virtually NO form of resistance for the Palestinians.

    This is what Witty wrote on Mondoweiss:

    “Dialogue is the means to humanize the other.

    Resistance is the means to de-humanize the other.

    Absent an attitude of “love your enemy”, BDS is a war tactic. Anyone that quotes Gandhi without that component, is misquoting Gandhi.

    Absent clarification of objectives, and clear definition of scope, BDS is worse than a war tactic, it devolves to a mob tactic, an ethnically or politically based persecution.”

    ‘BDS is worse than a war tactic’

    This post is a perfect brochure for the polite fascist. He constantly *preaches* on how to do this and that, rhetorically, when it comes to this issue but never ever follows his own advice.

    We all know that the Palestinians have no meaningful power. NONE.

    The media and ‘debate’ in our country is a farce. So what insincere and corrupt individuals like Witty do is EQUATE both sides of this “conflict” – because doing so will help Israel out.

    He wants to present this image of the I-P WAR like it’s a simple everyday dispute.

    BDS is the only effective non-violent form of resistance that the Palestinian camp has been able to muster support for.

    So all the intellectual dishonesty aside (example: removing Jewish only colonies = ethnic cleansing!, “we must not divide Jerusalem!”, “Israel has a right to defend itself!” [repeat non-stop til peoples' ears bleed], etc.) – I think yea, it will ‘hurt’ Israel to an extent.

    THAT’S THE POINT.

    We don’t live in Richard Witty’s insincere/dishonest/make-believe-world where simple truths are masked with layer upon layer of legal spittle and other obfuscations of basic moral judgments (STEALING IS WRONG, COLONIZATION IS WRONG, ETC.!).

    We live in the real world. In the real world. The Zionist camp inside Israel and outside Israel have been fighting the 2-State solution with non-violence and violence since their inception. They buy off politicians. They set up funds and ‘charities’ to buy stolen land up for Jews in what’s left of Historic Palestine. They pervade our media and culture while the other perspective is marginalized/ridiculed/and in some instances outlawed (one example among countless: see Canadian test question that the organized Jewish community were enraged about this year).

    So is the point of all this nonsense (Richard Witty’s excuse for ‘dialogue’)?

    MISDIRECTION
    DISTRACTION
    DIVERSION

    Let’s hear what Stein and Witty would recommend the starving people of Gaza do. Or the Iraqis or the Afghans or any other people with the imperial/colonial bootstrap on their NECK!

    What *should* (since both will arm-chair strategize and exude moral authority) have the South Africans done? What should the Native Americans done? ETC. ETC.

    This is not a simple dispute between two peoples. It is one VASTLY POWERFUL (IN EVERY WAY) group versus a group which is VASTLY POWERLESS (IN EVERY WAY OTHER THAN DYING GRUESOMELY AND THEN HAVING PEOPLE PITY/ENRAGED over the pictures and video).

    The Palestinians are the ones who have been thoroughly dehumanized.

    CAUSE AND EFFECT, Witty! Your propaganda is based on the fundamental LIE of WHY such and such happened. You stop and start the time-line of violence when it’s convenient for you. Otherwise you can’t construct your circus act (the vanishing Israel-Palestine debate!).

    I

    • Alex Stein August 24, 2009, 10:11 PM

      LD – that’s a funny thing to say to someone who marched in Bilin last Friday.

      • Richard Silverstein August 24, 2009, 10:16 PM

        Which is more than we can say for Witty.

        • Richard Witty August 25, 2009, 1:18 AM

          Please practice what you preach about personal attacks.

      • Shirin August 24, 2009, 10:54 PM

        someone who marched in Bilin last Friday

        And who, specifically, would that be?

  • Alex Stein August 24, 2009, 10:56 PM

    The person I was referring to was myself.

    (I would have said ‘me’, pace Orwell, but one word responses don’t get past the comment system!)

    • Shirin August 24, 2009, 11:03 PM

      I don’t believe you.

    • Richard Silverstein August 24, 2009, 11:59 PM

      If you were there, I’m glad you were. But I do think you’re displaying a bit of a split personality. You demonstrate in Bilin, but applaud the views expressed at Muslim-bashing Harry’s Place. You’re an Israeli liberal peace activist who also espouses some pretty hard-right views at times. Personally, I don’t understand how 2 such disparate things can co-exist in one mind.

      Shirin is only expressing in an intense, distilled form some of the disbelief I myself feel for some of yr arguments. Part of this is, I think, as with most Jews, we all like a good argument (remember the great Monty Python routine about this?). But you take this to extremes at times.

      • Alex Stein August 25, 2009, 12:08 AM

        Richard – in the words of the great American poet Walt Whitman, “Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself (I am large, I contain multitudes)

        Although I’m not entirely sure where the contradictions are in the examples you’ve given. I don’t applaud the views expressed at Harry’s Place. I agree with some of them, disagree with others, and hopefully agree with the things I occasionally scribble there. What that has to do with my occasional decision to visit Bilin I don’t know.

        I would take issue with your (albeit complimentary) description of me as a peace activist. I don’t really see myself as a very political person – unfortunately in Israel the politics can’t be avoided, which is why I take occasional trips to Bilin and other such places.

        • Richard Silverstein August 25, 2009, 12:49 AM

          I don’t really see myself as a very political person – unfortunately in Israel the politics can’t be avoided, which is why I take occasional trips to Bilin and other such places.

          Frankly, you continue to confound. Do you realize how few Israelis do what you did? And yet you refuse to name what you do by the name it deserves. I just don’t understand it. Are you saying you go to Bilin but don’t have any political reason for doing so? That makes no sense. I’m afraid you’ve got to take sides. Being in Bilin means something to you, otherwise why are you there? Unless you’re there as a Shin Bet agent, in which case I’d presume you wouldn’t be highlighting yr presence for our benefit.

  • Alex Stein August 24, 2009, 11:09 PM

    Shirin – send an email to alex.stein@talk21.com, and I will send you a picture of me there; the picture is unfortunately taken from the back, but should do until my friends send me the other pictures. Or – even better – I can give you the number of a Palestinian friend I made there who can confirm I was there. Tell me which you’d prefer.

    • Shirin August 24, 2009, 11:14 PM

      Alex, I would not recognize you if you fell out of the sky and landed on my head, so how is a picture of you from the back going to convince me of anything?

  • Alex Stein August 24, 2009, 11:19 PM

    I take it that means you want my friend’s number?
    A

    • Shirin August 24, 2009, 11:23 PM

      I’d rather have an e-mail address, but sure, send me his full name and number. I’m sure he’ll be very interested to know the points of view his nice Israeli “friend” expresses here.

      • Alex Stein August 24, 2009, 11:33 PM

        Well I’m obviously not going to give you someone’s number if your aim is to insult me to them. I’m also not sure why I’m indulging your absurd accusation of lying. I know that at 11.10AM on Friday I arrived at Levinsky Park, that between 11.30 and 12.00 I got into the car with my friend Nic and someone called Yossi and someone else called Dror and a woman whose name I don’t remember, that we drove to Bilin, sat in the yard outside Abdullah’s house (inside are pictures denouncing Apartheid Israel plus space for activists to sleep etc etc), ducked to the store next door to buy an orange ice-lolly (spilt a bit of it on my white shirt which I bought a year ago in India), listened as a German journalists interviewed Abdullah and mentioned how the people in Bilin were much nicer than the settlers, met a funny and engaging young Palestinian man, walked with the demo towards the fence (but stayed well at the back because I’m a bit of a coward), got a little bit tear-gassed, sat around chatting to my friends, walked back to the village, bought some water, and then got a lift back to Tel Aviv.

        • Shirin August 24, 2009, 11:46 PM

          Sounds like a fun little day-outing for you. Too bad it is a matter of life and death 24/7 for the Palestinians who live there.

        • LD August 25, 2009, 3:52 AM

          Alex, I don’t doubt you’ve been there. You don’t seem like a liar. I just think you maintain a crazy level of skepticism – like Witty.

          Anyways, you seem like a tourist. Not an activist.

          (Incoming Witty, ‘we are all [equates] tourists in life. Taking in what we see, hear, smell even, to better assess the blah blah blah blah.’)

  • Alex Stein August 25, 2009, 12:01 AM

    Shirin – when you ask silly questions and imply that people are lying, you will get treated with the contempt you deserve. Try and see through the rage next time.

    • Richard Witty August 25, 2009, 1:39 AM

      Alex,
      Its not necessary for you to demonstrate at Belin to be a good person, even a supporter of Palestinian dignity.

      It is useful to be a witness, to see clearly. See.

      Please don’t be afraid of the insults levied here by Richard S and Shirin.

      Contemplate, study, think, talk, to determine what is right.

      There is a lot of distrust of people that approach political issues differently than the punitive, differently than resistance.

      For example, I am a SUPPORTER of dialog efforts, efforts to humanize Palestinians in the minds of Israelis. They have the effect of changing the range and tenor of attitudes and choices that Israeli leaders and electorate freely make.

      Shirin has spoken positively of the right, the necessity, the goodness, of Palestinians to resist. There is an implication that he applauds and applies Malcolm X’s phrase “by any means necessary”, meaning that ends/means questions are important tactical questions, but morality is secondary.

      I personally have been more influenced by AFSC leadership that have asserted “the means are the ends”, meaning that how we treat each other in all our relations is the goal, and that that starts now.

      Its a Jewish value as well. At every service that I attend, the opening assertion is “I take upon myself the obligation to love my neighbor as myself”. Some orthodox relate to that as only Jews as “neighbors”. But, also in orthodox tradition is the recognition that the person in front of you may be Jewish, or the Messiah. That is especially relevant relative to the Palestinian population with the discovery that more than an incidental number of Palestinians may in fact be as Jewish as I, even practicing.

      So, whichever definition of “neighbor” one adopts (human and/or just Jewish), there is the necessity of compassion and predisposition of respect.

      And, in assessing ends and means, there are ends that justify means.

      It helps my confidence if I hear some similar recognition from dissent, that they like Catholic Worker or Martin Luther King or Abraham Heschel regard the dictum of “love thy enemy” , or Gandhi as the pre-requisite to non-violent civil disobedience.

      Gandhi applied the standard of non-violence in thought, word, or deed. If BDS is conceived by its leadership as war by other means, then it hasn’t met that standard, and could/will result in the moral spinouts that occur in all war, where by definition hatred is unleashed.

      I don’t wish for it on Israelis. I don’t wish for it unleashed on liberals. I don’t wish for it unleashed on Palestinians.

      Non-violence is more than a tactic. Its an assertion of adulthood (“I am a man, free, not a function, already not fundamentally oppressed.”) and an assertion of respect (“You are a man, not a function, already not fundamentally oppressing.”)

      • LD August 25, 2009, 3:51 AM

        “Please don’t be afraid of the insults levied here by Richard S and Shirin.”

        Witty, you are so full of it, it’s unbelievable. People here and on Mondoweiss have known you in the blogosphere for many years now. And you’re anything but a supporter of “a SUPPORTER of dialog efforts.”

        You continue to lay on the thick verbiage, with no meaning. It’s a tactic like it always has been.

        “Contemplate, study, think, talk, to determine what is right.”

        Meaning: diversion diversion diversion. Don’t “study, think, talk” now. Do it later! Not here in this blog entry. Not anytime soon. Oh and “determine what is right” means, agree with Witty! I can’t think of a single substantiated argument you’ve made Witty.

        You focus purely on rhetoric and hypothetical situations. Then in your rebuttal you’ll go on the defensive (and get even more pretentious), and start straw-manning the opposition to play the victim.

        I’m headstrong. But Margaret at Mondoweiss isn’t. Neither is Citizen or Mooser, et. al.

        It’s not just the – perhaps – idealistic to a fault, younger commentators, like myself, that you irritate with your shallow, inane, commentary. It’s the entire Mondoweiss crowd.. They are way more knowledgeable than I, but since you never focus on facts and simply talk ABOUT talking – I can spot your BS a mile away.

        You are not an expert on non-violent anything. You talk about non-violence as an “assertion of adulthood” and “respect”? How, Witty? You never explain WHY. You just make one baseless abstract statement after another! Not only that, but this kind of statement could only be said w/ experience! You have none though. And when we factor in your long list of intellectually dishonest arguments (removing Jewish COLONIES and COLONISTS from the OT as being an ‘ethnic cleansing’) – I see nothing but contempt for you.

        And that’s clear now on Mondoweiss, where people were finally suggesting everyone just ignore your point-scoring nonsense. I don’t think they will do it though. They are much more polite than I am.

        You are a phony.

        You sit there and talk about Hamas all day when Israel kills more civilians, discriminates more, abuses more, blah blah blah and occupies! THEN, you preach to us on the virtues of non-violent resistance and equate both sides of the conflict through your soft-peddling of Israel’s crimes.

        You commit the logical fallacy of skepticism (in terms of threshold, like past a certain point where it becomes self-delusion rather than opinion – like disregarding the voluminous documentation on the Holocaust).

        I’m talking about the story on the Palestinian named, Rania. Israeli soldiers kidnapped her husband at night (called her a whore for protecting her husband), and now she’s left to take care of her son alone while her husband get’s lost in the non-existent “legal” system in Israel (most likely).

        So don’t preach. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re paid to come on these blogs and sabotage meaningful discussion. (YOU KNOW, WHERE PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE CONFLICT INSTEAD OF TALKING ABOUT TALKING ABOUT IT!)

    • Warren August 26, 2009, 6:24 PM

      I admit sharing some of Shirin’s skepticism that you marched in Bilin. I think his doubt and question were reasonable. You might hold contempt for him but I don’t think that’s the general sentiment on this blog, i.e., speak for yourself.

      I’m convinced that you were there from the thread, but it is notable that your description of the outing reads like a leisurely jaunt and form of entertainment, Conde Nast rather than engaged and concerned, it actually comes across more like a trip to the zoo. You see, as a citizen of a country that is actively occupying another people literally next door to you, it’s not enough to go out and see the life of the wogs for half an hour, have a little diversion. It’s also encumbent on you to speak out against what Israel is doing to the Palestinians and actually demonstrate you are against it. Since you tend to defend and rationalize Israel’s actions here, it would be normal for people to question the authenticity of your peace-marching. That’s the salient point.

      For the brave souls who really do put themselved in front of Israeli guns and bulldozers aimed at the Palestinians & are currently protesting peacefully on the front lines of the Separation Wall construction, we see what can happen. But then, perhaps the IDF is a little rougher on the goyim, think Rachel Corrie and the recent incident with the American peace activist James Miller.

      • Richard Silverstein August 26, 2009, 6:39 PM

        Far be it fr. me to defend Alex, but I think in his description of the episode I detect a hint of ambivalence about the entire affair. I’m sure he grew up as many of us did on a patriotic Zionist narrative. If he did, then it can’t be easy to consider that your primary moral allegiances may not be to an Israeli army or police force that oppresses, but rather to Palestinians who are the butt of Zionist power. That would be enough to make many a Zionist take pause. So if any of that is at work, I would tend to feel some sympathy for Alex (though I don’t know that it is).

        It’s good that he was there as long as he was there for the right reasons, & only he can know the answer to that.

        • Alex Stein August 26, 2009, 8:08 PM

          I’ve never grown up on any ‘patriotic Zionist narrative’, whatever that is. For as long as I can remember I’ve thought the only reasonable solution to the conflict has been two states for two peoples; more recently I’ve had a preference for some sort of federal/one-state solution, but that remains totally unrealistic, so two states is the best way forward. The key principle, for me, is to recognise that both people have national rights in the land. I really don’t like the idea of dividing Jerusalem, but I can’t see any other way. My moral allegiances are not to Palestinians or Israelis but to what I think is right.

          • Richard Silverstein August 26, 2009, 11:42 PM

            My moral allegiances are not to Palestinians or Israelis but to what I think is right.

            That may indeed be the way you view yrself (and it’s not unexpected), but that is not the way I and other readers here see you. You clearly have a very deep streak that is highly protective of Israel when you feel it’s getting a raw deal (& you have quite a low threshhold of tolerance for criticism of Israel). And you clearly don’t at all feel the same way about Palestinians.

            I’m not doubting the sincerity of yr beliefs about the way to solve the Israeli Palestinian conflict. But the manner in which you manifest those beliefs can be quite defensive and hyper-argumentative.

          • Alex Stein August 27, 2009, 12:02 AM

            I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being protective of something when it’s getting a raw deal; if I felt you gave a raw deal to the Palestinians here, I would do the same.

            It’s preposterous to say I have a low threshold of tolerance for criticism of Israel, as anyone who has read anything I have written will testify. I only have a low threshold of tolerance for double standards, shifting of the goalposts, and hysterical, angry reportage: all three of these are highly detrimental to the cause of dialogue and in my humble opinion are all too often (although far from always) to be found here, either above or below the line.

          • Richard Silverstein August 27, 2009, 12:55 AM

            if I felt you gave a raw deal to the Palestinians here…

            But you never would because ultiimately yr stronger allegiance is to Israel and not the Palestinians (despite the fact that you deny this). To claim that your only allegiance is to your sense of justice or fair play sounds nice but doesn’t correspond to the way I & others here find your comments.

            It’s preposterous to say I have a low threshold of tolerance for criticism of Israel, as anyone who has read anything I have written will testify.

            You mean “anyone” who is already sympathetic with yr own perspective. Because certainly there are a number of commenters here who don’t see you as you see yrself.

          • Alex Stein August 27, 2009, 1:13 AM

            Richard – we are going round in circles; such is the nature of subjective experience, and I’m not complaining. I suggest in future you call me out when you feel I am guilty of the descriptions you paint above; I’ll do the same when I see double standards, shifting the goalposts, and hysterical reportage.

        • Warren August 27, 2009, 2:20 PM

          I see your point, Richard S., and think you’re right. Also, need to make a correction, the American peaceful protester recently shot in the head by the IDF was Tristan Anderson, pace your blog post. I said James Miller, who was British, and his murder happened earlier. To make such a sloppy mistake, confusion of names, is disrespectful and I apologize.

      • Alex Stein August 26, 2009, 8:05 PM

        Warren – I answered Shirin’s accusation of lying with the contempt it deserved. Nothing more to be read into my description of the day than that.

  • Richard Witty August 25, 2009, 1:42 AM

    I mean the term “man” in a gender-neutral tone, though we are here a discussion of a few men.

    • LD August 25, 2009, 6:49 PM

      Oh please, Witty. You’re a joke. You never say anything. You just flex your pseudo-intellectualism in “peace-making”. Your act is tired. Everyone knows the punch-line.

      You deal strictly in abstractions because you have *nothing* to substantiated and meaningful to add to the discussion.

      You exaggerate the crimes of official enemies (Hamas/Hezbollah) while white-washing the crimes of States (the Zionist State).

      The opposition to your garbage is due to the fact that there is no FACTS to support your rhetoric. So all we see is a clown jiggling keys in front of adults, looking for a laugh. Trying to distract us from the train wreck behind you.

      You are a troll.

      • Richard Silverstein August 25, 2009, 7:03 PM

        You are a troll.

        Can we tone down the rhetoric? I often disagree with Richard W., in fact almost always. But he’s not a troll. If anyone should know it’s me. I have really nasty trolls whose comments thank God none of you ever see (unless I publish them specifically). At least Richard can write in complex sentences w/o using anatomical insults or invading my son’s privacy.

        • LD August 25, 2009, 9:09 PM

          Ok Richard. I’ll stop. Sorry for the digression/argument.