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StandWithUs: Destroying Human Rights at UC San Diego

rescuing human rights standwithusThanks to Audrey Jacobs of StandWithUs, I’ve managed to confirm that the far-right Israel advocacy group is indeed sponsoring Rescuing Human Rights, and that the program will feature four controversial figures in the national anti-jihadi movement. This event is part of Israel Awareness Week on campus. This in turn is directly connected to Israel Apartheid Week held at the same time. One of SWU’s key missions is to take the pro-Israel message directly to those it considers enemies on campus. Getting in the face of campus Muslim or Palestinian groups is SWU’s stock-in-trade.

SWU has done us the favor of uploading three of the speaker agreements between Tritons for Israel and SWU indicating they’re paying Zuhdi Jasser $4,250 plus hotel and travel, and Brooke Goldstein $3,500 plus expenses. She, by the way,founded the Lawfare Project and is an attorney for the Dutch Muslim-hater, Geert Wilders. The Wall Street Journal’s Brett Stephens is being paid $8,500 plus expenses. Avi Bell, who teaches law at the Catholic institution, the University of San Diego may be speaking gratis. That’s well north of $20,000 if you include speaker expenses and rental of Price Theater, where the event will be held. A good part of this comes from student fees, meaning that all students, including those who are Muslim, are supporting this hate fest.

The SWU promotional material notes the “inspiration” for the title and substance of the event supposedly comes from a Wall Street Journal column Stephens wrote, The Decline of Human Rights. One of the key “bright ideas” in the piece is that there are “too many” human rights. By allowing every Tom, Dick and Harry to claim their rights have been abused, we’ve cheapened the principle. It’s something akin to the argument that there are too many sex discrimination or rape claims made in courts because every woman has come to see them as her meal ticket. Yup, pretty damn offensive.

Also, don’t expect the WSJ columnist to note among the egregious examples of the abuse of human rights some offered by the pro-Israel community. Civil rights complaints brought by pro-Israel students against Columbia University and UC Berkeley have been dismissed. This entire new approach is championed by former Bush administration “civil rights” official, Kenneth Marcus, whose hopes to plough new ground by making criticism of Israel into a human rights violation have so far been frustrated. Marcus wants to turn “anti-Israelism” into a synonym for anti-Semitism with so far almost no one outside pro-Israel apologists buying it.

Another cheapening of the concept of human rights comes from those like another conference participant, Brooke Goldstein, who popularize the faux concept of lawfare. The premise of her organization seems to be, roughly that Muslims are so evil that they’re not entitled to human rights; or that by it’s very nature, Islam makes a mockery of human rights.

After reviewing Stephens’ piece, it seems to me that he filched some of his ideas from, and that the title for the UCSD event comes from the Henry Jackson Society essay, Rescuing Human Rights, which I referred to in yesterday night’s post.

In order to bolster Zuhdi Jasser’s Muslim bona-fides, SWU calls him a “devout” Muslim. In fact, Jasser’s own promotional material make this claim. I wouldn’t trust his claims as far as I could throw ‘em unless they were independently verified.

SWU and like-minded anti-jihadi pro-Israel groups are quick to point out the supposed international Muslim conspiracy to topple western civilization and replace it with a caliphate or Sharia law (depending on which anti-Muslim extremist you talk to). What few people are noticing is that there is a similar coordinated international pro-Israel campaign financed and directed in large part by the Israeli government. Though the pro-Israel cabal at times maintains its own initiative, funding and agenda.

This is far more than lobbying. It’s much more akin to the surreptitious surveillance and flacking for war against Iran which I described in my posting about the work on which Shamai Leibowitz and I collaborated. In the current case, we can call this an all-out campaign to legitimize Israel and in the process delegitimize anything or one that stands in the way.

The May 15th conference is a perfect example. Human rights are a terrific thorn in the side of Israel. If SWU and HJS can redefine and defang the contemporary concept of human rights then Israel will once more be able to stand tall in the international community. In fact, this program doesn’t “rescue human rights.” It destroys human rights as a robust principle for reining in the worst excesses of authoritarian regimes. If conferences like this “rescue” anything it’s state-sponsored torture (see last night’s post) and murder (see my critique of John Brennan’s apologia for targeted killing and dronicide).

The premise of the pro-Israel anti-jihadis is that western civilization is at war with Islam (they claim only “radical Islam,” but make little or no distinction between the two). In such a war, there must be a no-holds barred approach to terror, since the Islamists know the weaknesses in our system and exploit it to their advantage. That’s why we need to emulate Israel and kill and torture more bad guys. There’s only one way to stop them. By being tougher and meaner than they are. That’s why human rights as currently defined are not only expendable, but inimical to the SWU anti-jihadi world view. So bring on torture, bring on targeted killings as long as they get the bad guys–except when they miss and get a few of the innocents. But can any Muslim truly be innocent?

Returning to pro-Israel flackery, some of my pro-Israel readers are fond of pointing out that lobbying is as American as apple pie. Indeed it is. But Israel’s activities and that of its “Amen choir” is more than lobbying. It’s no holds barred pull out all the stops advocacy. It skirts the bounds of propriety and even legality at times. It’s opaque, often mendacious, always slick and slimy.

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  • dickerson3870 May 10, 2012, 12:15 AM

    RE: “…the far-right Israel advocacy group [StandWithUs] is indeed sponsoring Rescuing Human Rights, and…the program will feature four controversial figures in the national anti-jihadi movement. This event is part of Israel Awareness Week on campus. This in turn is directly connected to Israel Apartheid Week…” ~ R.S.

    SEE: The Trial of Israel’s Campus Critics, by David Theo Goldberg and Saree Makdisi, Tikkun Magazine, September/October 2009

    (excerpt). . . It is an extraordinary fact that no fewer than thirty-three distinct organizations – including AIPAC, the Zionist Organization of America, the American Jewish Congress, and the Jewish National Fund – are gathered together today as members or affiliates of the Israel on Campus Coalition. The coalition is an overwhelmingly powerful presence on American college campuses for which there is simply no equivalent on the Palestinian or Arab side. Its self-proclaimed mission is not merely to monitor our colleges and universities. That, after all, is the commitment of Campus Watch, which was started by pro-Israel activists in 2002. It is, rather (and in its own words), to generate “a pro-active, pro-Israel agenda on campus.”
    There is, accordingly, disproportionate and unbalanced intervention on campuses across the country by a coalition of well-funded organizations, who have no time for — and even less interest in — the niceties of intellectual exchange and academic process. Insinuation, accusation, and defamation have become the weapons of first resort to respond to argument and criticism directed at Israeli policies. As far as these outside pressure groups (and their campus representatives) are concerned, the intellectual and academic price that the scholarly community pays as a result of this kind of intervention amounts to little more than collateral damage. . .

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.tikkun.org/article.php/sept_oct_09_goldberg_makdisi

  • Strelnikov May 10, 2012, 2:29 AM

    Is anybody going out there to video these slimeballs ranting, or are they too low profile?

    • David May 10, 2012, 8:40 PM

      You know it’s my backyard, but I hardly know who is organizing opposition or what’s what. This town seems dead to I/P. Advice anyone?

      • Richard Silverstein May 11, 2012, 12:48 AM

        I know there was an Al Awda group that protested when San Diego cancelled a concert of Marcel Khalife’s a few yrs ago. The CAIR chapter in LA has contacts in San Diego as well.

      • Deïr Yassin May 11, 2012, 4:26 AM

        @ David
        You’re wrong. San Doego is NOT dead as far as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is corcerned. There’ an active group of people who meet regularly, it might interest you.
        Here’a a long extract from Miko Peled’s autobiography “The General’s Son” (for those who don’t know Miki Peled: he’s the son of Matti Peled and the brother of Nurit Peled-Elhanan).
        He lives in Coronado, and in this extract he describes how he met a Palestinian for the first time in his life, at 39, living in California, though he grew up in Israel.
        The extract is long but very interesting: it’s the journey of a former Zionist who goes through a huge personal change, simply by knowing Palestinians and hearing their side of the story….in San Diego. First time he set out to visit a Palestinian in his private home, Miko’s Israeli wife was afraid they might kill him :-(

        Pick up the phone, as Miko did :-D Good luck
        http://mondoweiss.net/2012/03/exclusive-excerpt-miko-peleds-the-generals-son-journey-of-an-israeli-in-palestine.html

        • Deïr Yassin May 11, 2012, 4:39 AM

          Errata: San Diego, concerned, Miko.
          I have to find a way to add an English-language spellchecker…
          @ Re-David
          Here’s Miko’s personal blog. You’ll find a way to contact him I think:
          http://mikopeled.com

        • Richard Silverstein May 11, 2012, 2:57 PM

          Miko is also the brother of Israeli political scientist Yoav Peled, a friend.

          • David May 12, 2012, 4:39 PM

            Thanks all.

        • David May 12, 2012, 9:24 PM

          Deir Yassin — I recall this piece from Mondoweiss. At the time, I recalled the name “Peled” as an IDF General from way back, as well. Funny though how it knits together here in San Diego. I will seek out these groups. I do belong to Al-Awda locally and I asked them about engaging Stand With Us. Anyway, thanks.

          • Richard Silverstein May 12, 2012, 10:46 PM

            Way back in the old days the IDF actually had senior officers who were left wing, of whom Matti Peled was one. I believe he was the chief education officer. He was one of the first senior IDF officers to make common cause with Palestinians & speak with them on the same platform in Israel & abroad. In 1988, he participated in a national tour with the mayor of Nablus that was sponsored by New Jewish Agenda. I helped organize his appearance in Los Angeles.

          • Deïr Yassin May 13, 2012, 2:54 AM

            I really recommend everyone to read the excerpt of Miko Peled’s autobiography “The General’s Son”.
            I was very surprised that someone who’s the son of Matti Peled and the brother of Nurit (and by extension the brother-in-law of Rami Elhanan) could be so ignorant about history.
            Miko explains how he called his brother Yoav back in Israel to know whether what he’d been told by these Palestinians in San Diego was true. And Yoav told him that is was correct.

            If it’s possible to be that blind coming from the Peled-family (Matti Peled was also a fine scholar who mastered Arabic perfectly), no wonder some of the Hasbara-drones here seem like coming from out of space.
            I get the impression from what he writes about his father, that Matti Peled might have tried to ‘protect’ his children from the truth. In fact, Miko explains that it wasn’t until Smardar, Nurit’s thirteen years old daughter was killed in a suicide-attack in Jerusalem that he woke up.

  • base2014 May 10, 2012, 3:22 AM

    Hi Richard,
    these propaganda activities on campuses is one stunning and frightening thing, but what do you think of smuggling the “unified Israel” agenda into US state laws, as given in

    Bill Florida
    http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2012/1396/BillText/Filed/HTML

    and

    Bill South Carolina (video)
    http://forward.com/articles/152888/pro-israel-lawmakers-promote-one-state/?p=all

    both having almost identical texts. And what does that mean exactly: “Israel has been granted her lands under and through the oldest recorded deed, as recorded in the Old Testament”? Which borders under which interpretation of the Old Testament?

    • David May 10, 2012, 8:43 PM

      This could be a positive — to have the basis for the claim cited unequivocally as the “Old Testament” because that means it has little historical or legal meaning. It is a claim based upon “fervor” or “sentimentality,” and not a hard claim at all.

  • G Sherman Cole May 10, 2012, 9:21 AM

    Anti-Moslem fanaticism apparently has infected some in the US military.

    http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/

  • Jewish in Israel May 11, 2012, 12:19 AM

    The Israeli Right Wing will eventually fall…and only because of excellent efforts like what we see here…

    The Israeli Right Wing look very big and powerful, ruling the country I live in with an iron fist. But it’s exactly like one of those big rubber balloon monsters that kids play on at fairs–it only stands up so long as someone is pumping air into it.

    Israel’s ‘might’ is dependent solely upon the US veto at the UN and other fora, US military support etc.

    The US is the battleground for Israel’s future, not Israel. BDS against the US for it’s support and you will not need BDS against Israel itself.

    Thanks for going for the bullet finger.