Sounds Israeli: The music of Liran Danino

(Sounds Israeli is edited by Stefan Babjak)

This week we’re featuring the beautiful heartfelt music of a rising Israeli star named Liran Danino. Danino was born in Petach Tikva in 1991 and studied music at Ben Shemen Youth Village. He appeared in TV shows as a young child and eventually ended up winning 4th place on the popular Israeli reality show “Cochav Nolad” (A Star is Born.) The following song (“Lelechet” “To Walk”) was his first major commercial success.

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Sounds Israeli: The music of Ketem Paz

(Sounds Israeli is edited by Stefan Babjak)

This week was צלילים בעיר העתיקה (Sounds of the Old City) in Jerusalem, an amazing and varied music festival now in its third year. The city set up stages throughout the Old City and bands of all types are performing for free. This week we’ll be listening to roots reggae music from כתם פז (Ketem Paz, literally “Golden Stain”.) Ketem Paz has Yemenite musical influences and lyrics that are both religious and secular. They are also an amazing band to see live. Enjoy.

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Latest target of anti-Zionist witch-hunt in the UK: Israeli psychotherapists.

Cross posted by London-based blogger Richard Millett

Martin Kemp, Teresa Bailey, Jeff Halper, David Harrold at the Guild of Psychotherapists, Nelson Square, London on Wednesday night.

Martin Kemp, Teresa Bailey, Jeff Halper, David Harrold at the Guild of Psychotherapists, Nelson Square, London on Wednesday night.

On Wednesday night I found myself sitting among 60 or so psychotherapists and mental health workers at the Guild of Psychotherapists in London for the launch meeting of the UK-Palestine Mental Health Network.

The four panelists were David Harrold and Mohamed Altawil, both of the Palestine Trauma Centre UK, psychotherapist Martin Kemp and ubiquitous Israel-hater Jeff Halper of Israeli Committee against House Demolitions. Chairing the evening was psychotherapist Teresa Bailey.

The evening was supposed to be about helping the Palestinians but, as ever, it quickly dissolved into an evening of unmitigated attacks on Israel and Zionism, and calls for a boycott of the Jewish state. Contributions from panelists were very short so as to encourage comments from the audience.

First to speak was Altawil who discussed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder suffered by Palestinian children. He said the biggest trauma was when Palestinian children lost their houses and he accused Israel of “working to kill Palestinians from the inside”.

Harrold said Palestinians were in an “abusive relationship” shown by Israeli politicians talking about “putting Palestinians on a diet” and how they “must be made to feel a defeated people”. He said the Palestinians had been “reduced to a level of thinking only about the problem of survival, nothing else”.

Harrold continued “if you are sane you are going to resist” and he then listed certain ways of resisting which included “rockets and martyrs’ funerals”. He said he did not endorse such methods. He didn’t say he denounced them either.

Halper, who wishes to boycott Israel out of existence, called for the mobilisation of “civil society”.

Kemp criticised David Cameron for “declaring himself rock solid in his support of Israel”. Kemp described politicians who speak up in support of Israel as “hypocritical” and he invoked Ghada Karmi, Ronnie Kasrils, Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker, Angela Davis and Judith Butler to support his notion that Israel has an “apartheid system”.

Kemp finished by saying that “the west’s embrace of Zionism is having a detrimental effect on our own political culture”.

For more on Kemp’s ideological hatred towards Israel read his article To Resist Is To Exist in Therapy Today in which he seems to compare Israel to Nazi Germany when he invokes Emanuel Berman who said:

‘The lessons from Germany… and from Chile… point… to the need for analysts in all countries to confront openly major issues in their country’s history… Israeli society, and more specifically the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in which it is engulfed, is a case in point…’

From the floor Derek Summerfield, a senior lecturer and another seemingly vicious anti-Israel polemicist said “boycott is the only tool” and David, a young social worker in London who didn’t give his surname, suggested they should “hit Israelis economically”.

Andrew Samuels, a founding member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, a psychotherapist, political consultant and professor of Analytical Psychology at the University of Essex, seems to be a master of the dark arts of which his ideological mentor Carl Jung would not have approved.

Samuels suggested the Jewish community would respond to a political move couched in terms of “mental health and therapy”.

He was “excited about setting up a line of influence that ends up in governmental circles” and the “prestigious meeting rooms in Parliament” which would be provided.

He said “histrionics, the worst case scenario, emotional blackmail and all that kind of thing” should be used.

He complained that “the psychotherapy world is two-thirds pro-Israel”. But, he said, “we have to have the fight…the question is how best to make a lot of noise because noise really does matter. Losing debates and resolutions doesn’t matter viewed in the context of historical time. You have to lose a lot before you have the remotest possibility of winning anything.”

Margaret McCallin, an elderly English lady and a retired psychotherapist, said that “the mental health of the Palestinians must be seen in the context of violation of human rights and the ongoing violence from which these people see no end”.

She said that despite the way the Palestinians live in Gaza “they don’t get up and start slaughtering the Israelis on the border or any of the others”. How delightfully generous of her.

Finally, Teresa Bailey took a vote to gauge support for the UK-Palestine Mental Health Network and quoted Martin Luther King’s “what is remembered are not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”.

There were many other vicious comments about Israel from the floor, yet not one mention of Palestinian terror group Hamas and its real oppression of Palestinian women, gays and dissidents.

So expect a racist boycott of Israeli psychotherapists and mental health workers along the lines of the RIBA boycott of Israeli architects anytime soon.

Wednesday night at Guild of Psychotherapists.

Wednesday night at Guild of Psychotherapists.

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Factual errors behind the anti-Israel vote by Royal Institute of British Architects

CiF Watch recently posted about a motion passed by the Royal Institute of British Architects calling on the International Union of Architects (UIA) “to suspend the Israeli Association of United Architects’ (IAUA) membership until it acts to resist projects on illegally-occupied land and observes international law and accords”.

The decision was based partly on a presentation given to the group by an anti-Israel activist (and Guardian contributor) named Abe Hayeem.

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Here is a response to some of the glaring factual errors which led to the RIBA anti-Israel vote.

1. RIBA claimed that their vote was based partly on Union of International Architects (UIA) Resolution 13 which states that Israeli projects in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) were ‘illegal’, as well as the Resolution’s claim  that “The UIA Council condemns all action contravening the fourth Geneva Convention”.  

First, the claim that “Israeli projects in the West Bank are “illegal” – despite what the UK media claims – represents a highly disputed legal contention.  Additionally, almost all Israeli settlements are in ‘Area C’ of the West Bank, and is under full Israeli military and administrative control per the Oslo II Accord (1995) – an agreement, signed by the Palestinians, which contains no prohibition against settlement construction.

Also, Israel has not contravened the Geneva Convention.  Article 49 (6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention states

“The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”.

No court of law has ever found Israel to be in breach of this Article. The Article was written after WW2, when German and Russia forcibly transferred populations. Israel has not forced anyone to move into the West Bank, nor has it displaced local populations. In fact, the Palestinian population within the territories has increased dramatically

The International court of Justice did find in 2004 that Israel was in breach of the Geneva Convention, but this was in an advisory opinion which is not legally binding.

2. Abe Hayeem’s presentation to the RIBA Council included a characterization of the Prawer Plan for resettlement of the Israeli Bedouin as “ethnic cleansing”.

However, the plan does not even remotely resemble “ethnic cleansing”. It is a plan to give the Bedouin citizens of Israel more services and to reduce the economic and social gaps between the Bedouin and the rest of Israeli society. Many Bedouin supported the Plan (which has been shelved) under which a minority, some 20,000 to 30,000 Bedouin, would have been relocated (a few kilometers from their current place of residence) to recognised Bedouin towns, in order to be connected to Israel’s utility networks and have better access to state services.  Further, most Bedouin would have their current land legalized.  The plan also stipulated that those forced to move would receive financial compensation as well as new plots of land.

3. Hayeem also told the RIBA Council the following:

“Palestinian land has become so fragmented that a viable Palestinian State has been rendered impossible. The map of Palestine, for the indigenous Palestinians, has shrunk from being 97% of the land in 1917 to 44% in 1947 to 22% in 1967.”

First, the “map” he’s referring to has been exposed as a lie.

Further, it is not true that a “viable Palestinian state has become impossible”. Under the final status negotiations, Israel accepts that some settlements will need to be evacuated in the event of a peace agreement. And Hayeem’s figures (97% to 22%) ignore the impact of the immigration of Jews to Palestine in 1917-1947 as well as the 1948 War of Independence which was started by the Arabs but in which the new State of Israel successfully defended itself. In 1917 Israel did not exist! – hence the 97% figure.

4. Hayeem’s presentation to the RIBA Council accused Israel of pursuing “apartheid policies”.

This is an egregious falsehood, as you can see by a thorough refutation of the smear published by BICOM.  (See also Jonathan Hoffman’s critique of Ben White’s book.)

Finally, it’s worth noting that in April 2000 Nelson Mandela came to London and spoke to the Board of Deputies of British Jews. He spoke of the need for Israel to leave the lands taken in 1967 but not unless there was first recognition of the Jewish State by the Arab States:

I added a second position, that Israel cannot be expected to withdraw from the Arab territories which she legitimately conquered when the Arab States wanted to whip her out of the map of the world.”

No mention of ‘apartheid’ in Israel – from a man who spent 27 years as a prisoner of the apartheid regime in South Africa.

(Editor’s Note: To assist those in the UK who oppose the boycott, please sign this petition, and consider contacting the president of the Union of International Architects (UIA), Prof. Albert Dubler, and ask that the group reject RIBA’s endorsement of a policy of racist exclusion targeting Israelis.)

uia@uia-architectes.org (UIA email)

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Sounds Israeli: The music of Omer Adam

(Sounds Israeli is edited by Stefan Babjak)

This week’s song was stuck in my head the second I heard it on the radio, and I’ve heard more than a few friends at Ulpan humming it to themselves.

Omer Adam was on the Israeli version of American Idol in 2009 but was disqualified when it came to light that he was only 15 at the time – instead of the required 16. His popularity followed him anyway and in 2013 his song “Tel Aviv” became the anthem for that city’s Gay Pride celebration. 

 

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Boycotted at Ben White Amnesty event as David Hearst announces “I know who you write for”.

Cross posted by London-based blogger Richard Millett

White and Hearst in discussion at Amnesty last night.

White and Hearst in discussion at Amnesty last night.

Last night (Shabbat) I was at Amnesty International’s London HQ for the launch of Ben White’s updated Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide. The event was chaired by David Hearst, former chief foreign leader writer of The Guardian.

After White’s talk he had a Q&A with Hearst after which members of the audience were allowed to ask White questions. Well, most of them anyway.

I had my arm raised for half hour while Hearst took questions from those sitting around me, before taking questions from the other side of the room. While my arm was still raised Hearst called an end to questions.

Feeling rather frustrated I asked whether I could put a question to White. Hearst declined my request and replied:

“I know exactly what you’re up to. And who you are. And who you write for.”

Sinister or what! Here’s the exchange:

 

So, what was I up to? Who am I? Who do I write for? Well, since starting this blog in 2009 I have mainly written for myself. I have occasionally written for the Jerusalem Post, the Jewish News, the Jewish Chronicle and CiF Watch, but I never realised writing could get me boycotted.

But here’s the point; I have never had any dealings with Hearst. So, how did he know who I was?

He was obviously primed but why? I have never been disallowed from asking a question at Amnesty before, although I was once threatened at an Amnesty event by Amnesty Campaign Manager Krystian Benedict, who has since been moved to work on Syria and who was present last night.

My question to White was going to be simply this: Seeing that White relies heavily on statements by Israeli politicians to paint Israel as racist (see slides below) I wanted to know whether the same could also be said of White particularly after he once stated that (British Jewish author) Howard Jacobson’s face was “another reason to support a boycott of Habima”, the Israeli theatre company.

I’m sure White would have batted that away quite easily, wouldn’t he? He reads my blog (he mentions it), so he should feel free to leave an answer below.

White started his talk addressing the Israeli Embassy’s apparent attempt to stop last night’s event taking place and went on to dedicate the evening to “all those people, including the Palestinians, who have sacrificed so much for liberation”.

Here’s the clip:

 

He then proceeded to talk about Israel’s continued “Judaisation”, particularly in the Negev and Galilee, and Israel’s “brutality”, “racism” and “apartheid” (including towards Israel’s own Ethiopian and Mizrahi Jews).

White loves nothing more than portraying Israel and Israelis as child killers. Apparently, Israeli soldiers hide near schools so they can kill Palestinian children (see slides below).

White finished off by telling his love struck audience that “Israel is afraid”.

Meanwhile, if last night is anything to go by I’m sure that Middle East Eye, David Hearst’s new website, will be a beacon of democracy and one of many and varied views…..

Slides used by Ben White last night:

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Centre for Palestine Studies, SOAS: Bibi is the “most dangerous world leader”.

Cross posted by London-based blogger Richard Millett

An MA in Palestine Studies is being introduced by SOAS and, judging by the last two nights at the Centre For Palestine Studies, which is based at SOAS, one can just imagine some of the questions on the end of year exam paper!  On Wednesday CPS hosted Ilan Pappe and last night it hosted Walid Khalidi who spoke on the subject of 100 years since WWI and the Balfour Declaration.

Admittedly, unlike Pappe, Khalidi supports a two state solution due to its “global support” but also because “in a one state framework Israel would have the ideal alibi to remove whatever constraints remain on settlements. Within a twinkling the Palestinians would be lucky if they had enough land to plant onions in their back gardens and to bury their dead alongside”.

Khalidi is the Godfather of “Palestine Studies”. Gilbert Achcar introduced him as “the founder of the scientific study on the question of Palestine”. But at the Centre for Palestine Studies on Wednesday night Ilan Pappe had referred to the “so-called scientific research” of Zionism as nothing more than “marketing” by Israel.

Hypocrisy doesn’t come bigger than that. While the study of “Palestine” is “scientific”, the study of Israel is mere “marketing”!

The glitterati of the Palestine Lobby, including “Ambassador” Manuel Hassassian, were present to hear Khalidi describe the Balfour Declaration as “the single most destructive political document on the Middle East in the twentieth century”. But the 16 million dead of WWI were not even mentioned by Khalidi.

Interestingly, Khalidi wasn’t too keen on UNSCR 242 either. While anti-Israel propagandists use 242 as proof that Israel is in the West Bank illegally, Khalidi said it doesn’t specify a time when the withdrawal of Israel’s armed forces should begin, a line for them to be withdrawn to or the name of the territories they are to be withdrawn from.

Neither does 242 mention the word “Palestinian” or describe who the “refugees” are. Khalidi said while the Balfour Declaration was the fountainhead of all developments from 1917 to 1967 UNSCR 242 was the fountainhead of the conflict since 1967 to this day.

Khalidi said the 1967 War’s “most profound and potentially catastrophic impact lies in the inspiration it gave to neo-Zionist religious fundamentalist Messianism and to its creation of conditions conducive to a clash over Jerusalem’s holy places between Jewish and Christian evangelical jihadists on the one hand and Muslim jihadists on the other.”

Khalidi doesn’t like Israel’s leaders much either. The last part of his talk was all about the influences on Benjamin Netanyahu, which included his grandfather (Nathan), father (Benzion) and brother, Yonatan, killed in Israel’s raid on Entebbe in 1976 to save Jewish and Israeli hostages from Palestinian terrorists.

Another influence was Jabotinksy who, Khalidi said, was referred to by Ben Gurion as “Vladimir Hitler”. Another was Menachem Begin who, according to Khalidi, introduced into the Middle East the letter bomb, the parcel bomb, the barrel bomb and the car bomb.

Khalidi thinks Arabs are powerless and he said “just how sorry the state of the Arab nation is can be gauged from the fact that the future of Palestine hinges more on the desires and prejudices of Benjamin Benzion Natan Netanyahu than those of any incumbent in the proud Arab capitals”.

Khalidi said Abbas is “committed to non-violence”, that there’s “evidence of pragmatism” in the Hamas leadership and that “civil disobedience” could well be common ground for Abbas and Hamas.

But Khalidi’s final dramatic rhetorical flourish, for which he received a standing ovation at which he waved his walking stick high in the air, was aimed solely at Israel’s Prime Minister:

“All the other protagonists are committed to a peaceful resolution…Obama’s understanding of the Palestine problem far surpasses that of all his predecessors. Abbas’ commitment to peace is genuine. At his age peace would be the crowning achievement of a lifetime.

We want to focus on the real enemy…Bibi will never share Jerusalem. Continued occupation and settlement while tightening the noose around East Jerusalem is  a sure recipe for an apocalyptic catastrophe sooner or later over the Muslim holy places in the Old City.

With the continued surge in religious fundamentalist zealotry on both sides the road to Armageddon will lead from Jerusalem.

That is why, ladies and gentleman, Benjamin Benzion Ben Natan Netanyahu is the most dangerous political leader in the world today.”

Jewish holy places, anyone? Roll on those MA in Palestine Studies exam questions!

 

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Jews demonised at Centre for Palestine Studies as Ilan Pappe comes to SOAS

Cross posted by London-based blogger Richard Millett

Jews came under fire last night at the Centre for Palestine Studies, based at SOAS and under the chairmanship of Gilbert Achcar. It was irrelevant if you are a Jew in Israel, Scotland, Wales or England. Ilan Pappe, the CPS guest speaker, doesn’t discriminate.

Pappe, a lecturer at Exeter University, started by saying he wished “to answer the riddle of the growing gap between the image Israeli Jews have of themselves and the external image the world has of them”. In North Korea the gap between the view North Koreans have of themselves and that of them by outside world would not be much different, but in Israel there is “genuine difference”.

He said the Zionist movement in Israel should be credited for its marketing skills, particularly the way it marketed both Palestine as a land without a people for a people without a land and also Israel as a European country. This helped “absolve them from what they did to the native population”.

Israel, he said, therefore appeared to be a democracy while actually being an “ethnic racist state”. Israel had succeeded in “marketing an oppressive reality as a democratic one”.

Israel had marketed Zionism, he said, to include such enlightenment concepts as liberalism, capitalism and social democracy. And Zionism was far more successful than other ideas because it was “born after the failures of Nazism and fascism”.

Such branding and marketing, according to Pappe, had been done via academia and fiction.

Israeli academics, he said, undertook a “willing role to commodify the Zionist project on the basis of so-called scientific research”. And books and films like EXODUS showed Zionist figures looking like “Aryan Israelis”, while the Palestinians looked “like either Osama Bin Laden or ET”.

But, Pappe said, at one stage certain Israelis had an “epiphany”. Using the same methodology of books, articles and films they challenged these “truisms of Zionism by re-examining the Zionist project from the beginning”.

They showed Israel was a “settler colonial society, an aggressive society and a discriminatory society”. However, they got “cold feet” when challenged and apologised before disappearing without trace, some being forced to leave Israel.

However, this same methodology has now been adopted by people outside Israel which, according to Pappe, worries Israel. Israel can “stifle criticism and crush those who don’t toe the line from within” but cannot do the same to those outside Israel.

In response to this, Pappe said, the Israeli elite has re-adopted the Zionist dogma in a “neo-Zionist” form, which is far harsher and less flexible than the original. Such “neo-Zionism” being symbolised by the likes of Netanyahu, Bennett and Lieberman.

Pappe said he was worried how Israel would react to a new, even non-violent, Palestinian Intifada as “the Israel of 2014 is worse than the Israel of 1987 and 2ooo. It is a more ruthless Israel”.

“Neo-Zionism”, Pappe explained, attempts to combine liberal and theocratic ideas of how to live as Jews in the twentieth century and is a “lethal combination if you are the enemy”. Pappe said this is “not easy to sell as a liberal democracy”.

“Israeli society is neo-Zionist. Most (Jewish Israelis) want an ethnic racist state. There are no liberal Zionists anymore,” he said. He cited Peter Beinart, J Street and Ari Shavit as the last possible bastions of liberal Zionism.

Pappe said that in 2005 the Israeli government created Brand Israel Group(BIG), to target the Jewish community in America, despite already having America “in its pocket”. Israel, he said, is doubtful of their support in the future.

Pappe said his publisher, Verso, would neither allow him to show the fairly explicit posters in his new book that were used by Israel to “appeal to the Jewish homosexual community in New York City” nor those aimed at Jewish heterosexuals. The idea being, Pappe said, if you like this sexy woman you might like Israel’s occupation.

By 2010, however, this campaign was seen by Israel to have failed and so, Pappe said, Israel’s new policy was to distract the opposition. Instead of trying to win an argument about “apartheid and ethnic cleansing” activists were urged to say, for example, “But Israel invented chewing gum!”.

Pappe said Israel had also been successful in convincing Jews in other countries that Israel is their story as well. He said he was once confronted by Jews in Edinburgh and that he had told them in no uncertain terms that Israel was not their story.

Then at the end of last night’s event when I criticised his lecture he asked me in Hebrew if I speak Hebrew, presumably to imply that Israel is not my story either. Ironically, your typical SOAS audience member has absolutely no connection with the Palestinians and cannot speak Arabic.

The final irony is that the marketing and branding Pappe accuses Israel of doing is just what he does! For example, during his talk he urged his audience to use “settler colonialism”, “Israeli apartheid”, “regime change” and “ethnic cleansing” when discussing Israel.

(I have been banned by SOAS, under threat of legal action, from filming or taking photos at these events without permission. All my requests for permission have since been declined. Others are permitted to film and take photos.)

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Richard Millett reports from London on the latest ‘hate Israel’ event, starring Ben White

fThe following was written by London-based blogger Richard Millett

Israel Apartheid Week” kicked off on Tuesday night with star guests Ben White and Dr Ang Swee Chai speaking at a UCL Friends of Palestine event on Medicine And Apartheid in Palestine.

white eventDr Ang Swee Chai, an orthopaedic surgeon, set up Medical Aid For Palestinians and is a self-confessed fundamentalist Christian. She said that when she was growing up she had lots of Jewish friends and supported Israel. Then in 1982 she turned on the TV and saw Israeli planes dropping bombs on Lebanon. Many of those killed and wounded, she said, were non-combatants.

So she immediately resigned from her hospital job and flew to Beirut under the auspices of Christian Aid. She ended up joining the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, which, she admitted, was affiliated to the PLO.

She worked in Beirut’s Gaza Hospital near to Sabra and Shatila and learnt from Palestinians that “many lost their homes when Palestine became Israel”.

She said that the first two things Palestinian children in Sabra and Shatila learn are “their name and the village in Palestine they came from”. “Palestine was never a desert, but a rich centre of civilisation, culture, art and dance,” she continued.

Then she turned to the horrific events of 16th-18th September 1982 in Sabra and Shatila. She said that the day before 700 Israeli tanks drove from South Lebanon to Beirut and when the Israelis arrived they started shooting people.

At Gaza Hospital, she continued, the Israelis demanded that any foreigners leave. She presumed they were going massacre the patients. But two doctors refused to leave and so “our patients survived”.

Throughout her talk she showed graphic images (see below) of dead, dying and badly wounded people and of a mass grave containing, she said, 800 to 1,000 bodies. She finished off with that notorious map of a “disappearing Palestine“.

She described how an 11-year-old boy, who survived, was lined up along with his family as they were “systematically killed” and how he “heard his sister and aunties being raped and crying”.

She finished with an emotional plea:

“I realised what was going on. If I had any doubt about what the Palestinian refugees said to me about how they lost Palestine and had been brutalised, I had no doubt now. Why was I brought up to be so bigoted and prejudiced against the Palestinians. Will G-d give me a chance to do something right for the rest of my life? This story should be told. The Palestinians are still dying and suffering today.”

During the Q&A a Jewish student asked her whether being Christian was the reason for her failure to mention that the massacres at Sabra and Shatila were actually carried out by Christians, to which she responded (see clip here):

“This particular group of Christians was trained by Israel. Six of them confessed that Israel set them up…Where this kind of atrocity happens we need to know who made it possible, who planned it, who sealed the camps so nobody can escape, who flared the skies so the massacre can continue, who provided the bulldozers and all that. The Israeli Kahan Commission found Sharon indirectly responsible. The Christian militia itself was actually under the command of Israel.”

She said she now has further evidence, which has upset her Jewish friends, that the IDF were inside Sabra and Shatila when the massacres occurred.

She was awarded the Star of Palestine.

Meanwhile, Ben “I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are” White did his usual “Israel is an Apartheid state” rant using slides to attempt to make some sort of case (see below). One slide is humorously headed “Israel is worried”.

Inevitably, White explained the aims of the BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) movement, called for a boycott of Israel and finished off quoting ex-IAF captain Yonatan Shapira:

“It is no longer enough to try and change Israel from within. Israel has to be pressured in the same way apartheid South Africa was forced to change.”

White didn’t mention that Shapira once sprayed “Free Gaza” and “Liberate all the ghettos” on to a wall nearby the Warsaw Ghetto where so many Jews lost their lives at the hands of the Nazis.

The same Jewish student asked White why anything he says about Israel is to be trusted considering he “is an anti-Semite”. White responded (see clip here) by saying that he had already made his “opposition to anti-Semitism perfectly clear”. It was a shame White wasn’t pressed about this racist tweet.

When I asked White to explain the difference between the tactics of the Nazis targeting German Jews in the 1930s and those of the BDS movement targeting Israeli Jews in 2014 he kindly plugged my blog before responding (see clip here):

“In one case you are talking about a fascist regime targeting a minority and persecuting them on an anti-Semitic basis. The other case you’re talking about a tried and tested method of civil society to resist oppression, a way of the weak challenging the powerful…Most people can tell the difference…”

White will be doing a reprise of his UCL talk at Amnesty International’s HQ in London on 21st March.

It’s obviously a very quiet time in foreign affairs for Amnesty to be hosting such an event.

Images used by Dr Ang Swee Chai:

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"Mass grave of 800,000 bodies."

“Mass grave of 800 to 1,000 bodies.”

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Slides used by Ben White:

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Jonathan Miller unleashes five minute anti-Israel smear on Channel 4

Cross posted by London-based blogger Richard Millett

In a cunning twist to that famous Fawlty Towers scene when Basil Fawlty tries to not mention the war when serving German guests but fails, Channel 4 News journalist Jonathan Miller does his best to not mention the war and succeeds!

The war that would not pass Miller’s lips was the one of 1948 when Israel beat five Arab armies and more to establish its legal state. Whereas the putative Israelis accepted UN Resolution 181 (the Partition resolution) the Arab world rejected it hoping to inflict on Israel’s Jews a second Holocaust instead.

To add to the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust another 6,000 Jews needlessly lost their lives in that 1947-49 war.

Not that such history seems to be of much concern to Jonathan Miller.

In his five-minute piece on Gaza for Channel 4 News last night he shows Palestinians playing football. Miller describes how “teams are named after the home towns from which previous generations were cleansed 66 years ago”. In one match we are told “Jaffa are playing Ashkelon”.

So Miller reduces the 1947-49 conflict down to one malicious word: Cleansed. The Palestinians were not “cleansed”, but Jews are cast as evil-doers nevertheless.

Miller tells us that Hamas and Fatah supporters play on the same team. It’s very touching to see guys taking time out from planning another genocide of the Jewish people (see Hamas’ Charter) and inciting racial hatred against Jews (see PA/Fatah TV) to play a bit of footy. The vicious fight at the end between two players possibly betrays the existing hatred between these two factions.

Miller starts his piece to camera with the common slur that Israel is cruel to Palestinian children. We are introduced to Abdel Karim who has a brain tumour and who has suffered a relapse after his first operation. Miller explains:

“Abdul Karim’s lifesaving treatment was delayed because Israel refused permission for his mother to accompany him to Jerusalem. They had to reapply for his grandmother to go instead. The process took two months. The oncologist is sending him to Israel again. This time for radiotherapy.”

Miller doesn’t tell us that Israel suspects Abdul’s father and mother of involvement in terrorism. Miller clearly outlines this on the Channel 4 News website where he writes:

“Arafat al-Dalo is not permitted to enter Israel because he had once been shot in the leg by an Israeli high-velocity bullet. Arafat, who is a tailor by trade, insisted categorically that he was not a militant. He had got caught up in a shooting incident at a border crossing, he said.

Ghada thinks she was refused because one of her brothers had been shot dead in a clash with Israeli forces. This made him a “shahid”, a “martyr” in Palestine; in Israel, it made Ghada a suspect.”

So why was this left out of the Channel 4 News footage?

Miller finishes his piece to camera with this cynical and unsubstantiated allegation against Israel:

“Paediatricians here cite several cases in which permissions to cross into Israel have taken so long that very sick children have died waiting.”

Jews responsible for the deaths of children is a long-standing anti-Semitic slur.

Last night Miller tweeted that he isn’t anti-Semitic:

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What is truly shocking is Channel 4′s increasing attacks on Israel and the Jewish people.

Channel 4′s Dispatches Inside The Israel Lobby presented by Peter Oborne begins with Oborne’s ominous words:

“Tonight on Dispatches how British policy is influenced by supporters of a foreign power…We investigate the Israel Lobby’s bankrolling of British politicians.”

That’s another long-standing anti-Semitic slur of Jews using money and power for nefarious reasons.

Sadly, Oborne is allowed to continue plying his vile trade in spurious allegations against Israel and its supporters for the Daily Telegraph (here and here).

Channel 4 also showed Peter Kosminky’s The Promise which ended with the words of a British soldier:

“After Bergen-Belsen, I thought that the Jews deserved a state, but now I’m not so sure…Their precious state has been born in violence and cruelty to its neighbours, and I’m not sure I want it to prosper…”

Channel 4 also broadcast Going for Gold in Gaza about disabled Palestinians training for the Paralympics. One Palestinian described in Arabic how he was able to rehabilitate himself at Israeli hospitals after the accident that left him disabled, but the word “Israeli” was suspiciously left out of the subtitles.

Finally, there was the time that Jon Snow, Channel 4′s main news presenter, lunged at me when I questioned him about his persistent use of the term “the Jewish lobby”.

Feel free to complain to OFCOM about Miller’s piece if you don’t want Miller to get away with it. Write to ofcomstandardsteam@ofcom.org.uk but you must mention the date and time of the programme: Channel 4 News at 7pm on 18th February.

And here is that famous “Don’t mention the War” scene from Fawlty Towers. Instead of Basil Fawlty, think Jonathan Miller.

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The Guardian, BBC and Mona Lisa’s Nose

A guest post by Joe Geary

Guess what this is?

mona

Did you get it? Well done, yes, it’s the Middle East as represented by large segments of the media, including the Guardian and BBC.

Well actually no. It’s Mona Lisa’s nose. But you get the picture, or rather, you don’t. You just get a tiny part of it.

There is a basic principle in the fields of semiotics and sociolinguistics, known as “framing”. It is well-known that the way a story is framed will influence how it is received by an audience.  It is equally uncontroversial that framings are not natural and preordained, that whoever is telling the story has a choice of various framings and the choice that is taken gives a significant insight into how we should evaluate both the story and the storyteller.

Returning to the original analogy, the problem with the Guardian-BBC coverage of the Middle East is that we don’t get a frame at all. We don’t even get much of the painting.

They make a conscious choice to remove as much context as possible to depict the Israel-Palestinian relationship, firstly, as entirely conflictual. Whenever do we hear of the many collaborative projects, or the Israeli aid work in the Territories or the health care available to Palestinians in Israeli hospitals? Secondly it is projected as the greatest conceivable imbalance. One side has all the power imaginable, the other side is utterly disempowered.

And thirdly, it is simplistically but seductively presented as white hat versus black hat, or rather, white race against black, or at least brown. The Israelis are depicted as Westerners and so metaphorically white (what a mutation – from swarthy Semites to Nordic Aryans in just two generations). Meanwhile the Palestinians, being Arabs, must be metaphorically a “brown” people. And so we are left with an ugly narrative of racial supremacism, provoking a delicious frisson of outrage among viewers and readers.

Finally, the relationship is stripped of all historical context. Cruel Goliath just woke up one day and decided to occupy and oppress his poor downtrodden neighbour. First of all, to steal his land and then, who knows, to drive him out completely. In this framing the Palestinian “cause” is quite simply freedom and any means of throwing off the oppressor’s yoke is justified, even the most violent.

But let’s try looking at the whole painting in its regional context. The Guardian-BBC could frame this Middle East conflict as that of a tiny country which has had to fight for its survival in three wars of aggression and has been subjected to 65 years of ferocious terrorism, but which miraculously continues to flourish as a democracy with full respect for the rule of law - and all this in a region brimming with violence, tyranny and hate. In this framing, we would require an exchange of hats. Israel is engaged in defensive resistance against enemies who wish to destroy her simply because she is different; she is democratic – dangerously contagious – she is modern and above all she is not Arab-Muslim. In this framing it is no longer clear quite who is the Goliath but it’s quite clear who is the bully and who the victim. And in an Arab Middle East where not only Jews but also the Kurds and Christians are all persecuted victims of Arab-Muslim rejectionism of the “other”, it becomes clear that it isn’t Israel who should be in the UN dock for apartheid racism.

Or we might try a third framing. The Palestinians and their cause are stoked and stroked and embraced by the big power players in the region, Iran, Syria, Turkey and the Gulf States, for the most cynical of self-serving reasons. Firstly, to bolster their soft-power prestige in the Arab world, and secondly to distract the internal populations from the humiliations they suffer at the hands of their rulers. The real Middle-Eastern conflict, as is now becoming clear, is between Shia-dominated Iran, plus its Syrian puppet, and the rest of the Sunni-dominated Arab world. The Palestinians are a very useful pawn in this game. And note that this support is never for a reasonable negotiated peace with Israel. Instead the Palestinians are spurred on to seek some improbable military victory in which Israel is brought to its knees or, better still, every last Jew is driven from the Middle East. Make no mistake, both Sunnis and Shias are happy to fight Israel to the last drop of Palestinian blood and the last thing they want to see is peace. This is a rather different Palestinian “cause” from the one sold daily by the BBC and Guardian.

But wait. I’m being unfair. We do sometimes see this:

mona

What’s this? Why yes it’s the Jewish lobby. The only part of the frame we’re regularly shown. How often are we told that US support for Israel is the result solely of the shadowy but immense power of US Jews and their piles of gold? It couldn’t possibly be that Israel is a democracy under the rule of law and that not supporting Israel would be a dereliction of every value the US professes to believe in. No, perish that thought.

And why do we never see this?

mona

Well done again. Yes, it’s the Arab lobby. The Saudi, the Qatari, the Emirates lobbies – now there is serious money – who not only work Washington lavishly and spend billions on US arms, but bribe media outlets with advertising income and fund universities throughout the West (the Gaddafi Foundation, remember that?) so that ubiquitous “Middle-Eastern studies” are properly pro-Arab and anti-Israel.

One last word on the land-stealing Goliath meme so popular with the BBC and Guardian. As so often documented on this blog, the vast majority of those evil settlements, aka “the obstacle to peace”, are actually built on land which in any reasonable future agreement would be part of land swaps and end up as part of Israel.

So, Guardian, BBC, in the future let’s see the whole picture in a proper frame. She’s famous for her enigmatic smile.

It’s probably because she “nose” what you two deliberate simpletons are up to.

If this pun is too horrible then:

It’s probably because she’s sussed what you two deliberate simpletons are up to.

(Joe Geary is an Anglo-Irish author and academic and occasional contributor to the CiF Watch and BBC Watch blogs. With a professional background in sociolionguistics and political science and a special interest in the language of prejudice, he writes about the increasing demonization of Israel in parts of the mainstream British media.)

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Israel’s “beautiful resistance” to suicide bombers: A response to Lucy Winkett

A guest post by Richard Millett

St James’s Church’s Rector Lucy Winkett’s defence of her church’s installation of a replica of Israel’s security fence in a piece for ‘Comment is Free’ is a legal and moral failure (Bethlehem Unwrapped is about ‘beautiful resistance’, not taking sides’, Jan. 2).

First the legal side. She states that Israel’s security fence is “illegal under international law”. It is incredible that so many non-lawyers (and a few actual lawyers) state this with such ease when there is little proper evidence of such “illegality”.  Rector Winkett is relying on the 2004 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice. A frame repeatedly projected on to St James’s Church’s replica wall states “In 2004, the International Court of Justice in The Hague stated the security fence was illegal and it should be dismantled.”

But an advisory opinion is just that; advisory and an opinion. It sets no legal precedent.

Moreover, it is undeniable that Israel’s security fence has stopped Palestinian suicide bombers from attacking Israeli civilians, saving countless lives.

There are legal opinions for and against Israel’s security fence, but for Rector Winkett to declare the fence “illegal under international law” makes a mockery of her claim at ‘Comment is Free’ that “we are not ‘pro’ one side or another”.

On the moral side Rector Winkett derides as “irresponsible” those who claim “we are aligning ourselves with those who support the Holocaust, suicide bombings or that we are antisemitic”.

But Rector Winkett’s wish for Israel’s security fence to come down will encourage suicide bombers sent by the likes of Islamist terror group Hamas to resume their murder of Israeli civilians, including those living on the West Bank, which the fence has successfully disrupted.  (Indeed, the Hamas Charter specifically calls for the murder of Jews, and their leaders have explicitly called for the annihilation of the Jews.)

And then there are the organisations that St James’s Church has expressly aligned itself with for Bethlehem Unwrapped.

Rector Winkett writes that St James’s is supporting “a peaceful Palestinian principle known as ‘beautiful resistance’; expressed in theatres, music projects…”.

Sami Awad, director of the Holy Land Trust (a pro-Palestinian group with ties to Hamas and other terror groups), might believe in “beautiful resistance” but that doesn’t exclude a belief in violence. Awad is on record as saying that such non-violent resistance “is not a substitute for the armed struggle.

Incidentally, all net proceeds from Bethlehem Unwrapped go to the Holy Land Trust. (That is should there be any net proceeds, the cost of the 12 day replica security fence installation being an incredible £30,000.)

Meanwhile, recent news footage shows Interpal’s primary trustee Essam Mustafa with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

And War On Want and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions are part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a movement that campaigns for Israel’s destruction.

Rector Winkett writes in her ‘Comment is Free’ piece that all viewpoints are listened to without exception and that visitors have been allowed to write a prayer or message of peace on the wall and that anything offensive has been immediately removed. She also writes that most conversations have been respectful.

Sadly, many have not been. A woman going in to St James’s Church for Bethlehem Unwrapped’s comedy evening responded to a question about the Holocaust with “What Holocaust?” A supporter of Israel was called a “friggin Jew” and “quenelle4 ever” appeared on the replica security fence (see middle of replica fence below written in blue):

wallquenelle

Rector Winkett also writes that people have written “this wall saves lives”. However, this was subsequently changed to “this wall enslaves lives”.

Bethlehem Unwrapped is not a respectful project however much Rector Winkett is trying to convince us. It mocks Israel’s legitimate attempts to save precious lives.

And it fails to recognise even the possibility that the main problem for Bethlehem’s Christians is not the security fence at all but intimidation and violence by Hamas similar to that carried out by Islamists elsewhere.

Moreover, St James’s Church’s Bethlehem Unwrapped festival has attracted antisemites, Holocaust deniers, those campaigning for the destruction of Israel and those who condone violence to that end.

This may not have been St James’s Church’s intention but this is what has happened and for this Rector Winkett should apologise to Britain’s Jewish community which is bearing the main brunt of the backlash.

The biggest irony is that St James’s Church itself is protected by a security fence; a tall metal fence that contains a locked door. When the door is unlocked it is heavily guarded. Some may call this a checkpoint.

St James’s Church is, understandably, protecting itself from anyone harbouring ill feeling towards it and who may be inclined to carry out an atrocity similar to those carried out against Churches in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria and Egypt by militant Islamists.

Israel is doing the same.

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How ASA Became RASA (Racist American Studies Association)

The final segment in a series of guest posts on the ASA boycott motion by Jon from DivestThis!

In contrast to communities like the Presbyterians or Food Coop world which I never knew much about before helping them fight off the BDS infection, I actually have friends and family members who have a connection to the field of American Studies, some of whom are or were ASA members.  Most of them left years ago when the organization started practicing the kind of politicized scholarship that ultimately led to the victory of politics over scholarship which culminated in this week’s boycott abomination.

As with any BDS debate, many questions regarding why a boycott was being directed at one country and one country only were met with well-rehearsed answers that never got to the real reason why the ASA was ready to abandon the principles of academic freedom in order to punish Israel and Israel alone.

And that reason is that there is a worldwide propaganda campaign directed at the Jewish state by dozens of wealthy and powerful countries who have corrupted organizations such as the UN in order to ensure global censure is directed against their enemy while the human rights spotlight never highlights the fact that Israel’s accusers represent the worst human rights abusers on the planet.

So the global campaign against the Jewish state (which uses the vocabulary of human rights as a weapon system – demolishing its effectiveness for any other purpose in the process) is simply one more example of the rich and powerful getting what they want.  But what does this have to do with a marginal academic organization like ASA?

Well here is where the unique nature of the BDS branch of this global propaganda campaign comes in.  For in order to make it sound as though their “Israel = Apartheid” message is coming from someone other than a marginal group of partisans, it is vital that these words be forced to emerge from the mouth of someone else.  And in an era when major institutions such as colleges and universities, churches and unions have been kicking the BDSers down the stairs for over a decade, the boycotters are now ready to do whatever it takes to speak in the name of even a group as marginal as the American Studies Association.

ASA President Marez told the New York Times that Israel was chosen to be the group’s human rights pariah because “you have to start somewhere.”  But the chances that the organization will continue from this starting point to act on human rights issues regarding other countries is nil since, as noted above, the ASA’s leaders are not human rights activists but anti-Israeli partisans first and last.  And given that they have forced the organization to throw academic freedom on the pyre in the name of their cause, I think it’s fair to say they should no longer even be considered scholars.

Anyway, as night follows day the script will play out.  Anger and recrimination by the 75% of members who didn’t vote on the issue (possibly because they – like a friend of mine who is in the organization – didn’t get the postcard voter reminder from the ASA leadership until a day after the vote had closed) will escalate once people realize that a group of people they have never met with no connection to the field is now speaking in their name.  Resignations will both shrink the organization while concentrating the radicals within it.  Real scholars (like those of AAUP) will continue to pour their scorn on the group which the BDSers will ignore as they travel the globe trying to find the next academic organization to corrupt in the name of ASA.

So what are we supposed to do about it?

Well first of all, we need to stop referring to this organization as the ASA.  For those who have destroyed the organization on Sunday should not have carte blanche to trade on its name and reputation on Monday.  I have chosen to refer to them from now on simply as RASA with the “R” standing for either “Rump” or “Racist” (take your pick based on your level of generosity).

And the RASA leaders who have done everything in their power to make this the law of the organization should be required to live with this decision.  They have published this handy guide to explain to college administrators why they should keep checks flowing to their organization despite the boycott vote, but I suggest those administrators calmly reiterate what many of them said in 2007: that for purposes of any boycott their schools also be considered Israeli institutions and boycotted.  And since, as RASA leaders never tires of telling us, this is an institutional boycott, they should then be required to take the steps necessary to separate ASA from these “Israeli” schools, including most of the schools the leadership draws a paycheck from.  Absent that, they should be branded scabs to their own boycott, too cowardly to do anything for “human rights” that might impact their own comfort.

But we can do more than that.  Real American Studies scholars who decide to remain in the organization should quadruple down on their relationship with real Israeli scholars and demand the RASA reject joint papers and joint presentations at conferences and publish the organizations communications on the subject for all to see.  They should show up to next year’s conference wearing a yellow star with a Z in the middle of it, or all manner of paraphernalia from every boycotted Israeli college and university they can find.  And maybe someone can publish a scholarly American Studies paper on the corruption of civic organizations within the US using ASA as their case study.

And most importantly, the misery the RASA leadership has visited upon the organization – the rancor, recriminations, resignations and condemnations by genuine scholars – should be held up to every other academic organization in the land as an example of what happens when a scholarly groups decides to stop being scholars to participate in a BDS program that demands self-immolation as an entrance fee.

There is precedent for the corruption of one organization to create the antibodies needed to minimize the spread of the BDS infection.  In 2010, members of a food coop in Olympia Washington woke up to discover that the store they had helped build and contributed to for years had joined the BDS movement behind their backs and was busily spreading the boycott gospel to other coops throughout the country.  But the misery they caused within their own community demonstrated to all the ugliness that must be imported when the Middle East conflict is dragged into a civic organization.  And recognition of this reality helped ensure no other coop in the country ever followed Olympia’s lead.

So let us make sure that the same ugliness the RASA leadership’s actions have caused do not get swept under the carpet when they show up all smiles to the next academic group insisting that everyone follow their example.  For RASA must now become the poster child for how an academic organization destroys itself when it decides to place their own hypocritical, fanatical partisanship above the needs of everyone else.

Proposed ASA boycott of Israeli academics is a guaranteed moral fail

The fifth guest post by Jon from DivestThis! on the proposed ASA boycott of Israel

Perhaps it is the sheer number of pathologies on display that forced me out of hiatus to comment on the recent BDS outburst having to do with the American Studies Association’s upcoming vote on an academic boycott.

First, you’ve got the usual breathless “This time for sure!!!” BDS bombast radiating out from the Israel-hating press, regardless of the fact that practically no one outside of the field of American Studies had even heard of ASA before they put themselves on the map by announcing their intention to flush the organization’s commitment to academic freedom down the toilet in order to strike a political pose.

Then you’ve got the convoluted arguments that try to explain why imposing academic bans on other scholars represents a commitment to vs. an attack on academic freedom (arguments helped along by the participation of Judith Butler, who specializes in 25,000 word essays proving that night is day).

Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti at Brooklyn College event

Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti at a pro-BDS event at Brooklyn College

And then you’ve got the usual sociopathic behavior so familiar to those who have the pleasure of dealing with anti-Israel partisans, including their infuriated insistence that each and every one of their accusations be addressed immediately (“Violation of sixty-million international laws! Open air prison!! White Phosphorous!!!) coupled with a disciplined refusal to acknowledge countervailing facts or answer any human rights question directed at them.

But what makes this particular BDS fight unique is the behavior of the leadership that has decided this boycott must go through by any means necessary.  Generally, when BDS partisans take over an organization and decide to corrupt it for their own ends, they just hijack the committees needed to set policy, and then interpret (or rewrite) the rules to allow their executive vote alone to set policy.  But for some reason (perhaps the need to bring enough people along to get the original boycott measured passed unanimously), this decision ended up going to the membership for a vote.

Now I’m not going to get into why the vote of a majority of voters vs. a majority of members is all that is needed to let the global BDS network (most of which is not made up of American Studies scholars) to speak in the name of every member of ASA.  But once a vote was called, you would think an organization allegedly dedicated to scholarship and trying to support claims that they were fighting for the cause of academic integrity would at least make a pretense of impartiality. 

But instead they decided that all communication to the membership would consist only of arguments in support of the boycott (including texts pulled from supporters inside and outside the organization).  And when the contempt this strategy showed to the membership started to trigger complaints, they opened up a Facebook page (without telling anyone about it), then eight days later sent word that it was the place anyone could participate in discussion and debate.  And with just a few days left before the vote deadline, they chose to ghettoize everyone who wanted to have a say into a single Facebook thread which, surprise surprise, is now larded up with crazed anti-Israel accusations with the ASA itself opting out of “dialog” in order to post and repost the same material that is the only allowed discourse radiating out from ASA Central Command.

The only response I can discern from the Boycott or Bust Brigade is a complaint lodged by the ASA itself that insists anyone claiming the organization is not being open is “bogus,” along with yet another convoluted explanation regarding why critical material is being denied to the membership (allegedly because it is inaccurate) while ASA continues to pump out the lies and fantasies of Electronic Intifada to the organization unimpeded.

I’ve already noted how a leadership cadre that gave itself months to come to “consensus” on this issue has only given the membership 15 days (during finals season no less) to cast their votes.  While such turnout minimalization tactics are familiar in the world of rough-and-tumble politics (at least they didn’t automate the system to only accept votes between sundown Friday and Saturday), what does it say about an organization claiming that their power of their boycott rests on the reputation of scholarship for honesty and impartiality when the people who have forced this boycott on the organization acts with such complete dishonesty and partiality?

What it says is that if a vote goes through, it will be a vote of an organization that has discredited itself, even before the rest of the academy marginalizes them still further by pointing out that white is in fact white and an academic boycott is the opposite of academic freedom.  Speaking of which, given that ASA is insisting that condemnation by an academic organization turns someone into a pariah devoid of moral worth, what does that make an ASA that’s already been condemned by the American Association of University Professors, an organization that represents a hell of a lot more scholars does the ASA?

And so we’re in another situation where the boycotters’ deck-stacking sets them up for failure regardless of how the vote they concocted turns out.  For a Yes vote that takes place with ASA leaders having placed so many thumbs on just one side of the scale can be easily dismissed as resulting from the membership being manipulated rather than convinced.  Alternatively, if the members vote No despite ASA’s embargo on the information they need to make a fair decision, this will mean that even a group of academics not know for having a lot of Tea Party members in their ranks knows enough to recognize BDS for its toxic stench and understand that – despite what their betters at the top of the ASA hierarchy are telling them – boycotting fellow scholars is not their only moral choice.

American Studies Association purges their Facebook page of critical comments

Here’s the fourth guest post by Jon (from DivestThis!) on the ASA motion to boycott Israel 

In case anyone is interested in seeing exactly what the leadership of the American Studies Association means when they talk about a “debate” on the issue of their academic boycott of Israel, yesterday the President of the association sent a note to the membership, alerting them that the ten days they had been given to make a decision on the matter (in contrast to the months the leadership gave themselves to achieve consensus on the issue – months that didn’t overlap finals time, by the way) “was designed not only to give everyone a fair chance to vote, but also to promote discussion and healthy debate.”

So far, these leaders have contributed to this “debate” by only providing information supportive of one side (guess which one).  But no worries.  For according to the ASA President: “A simple Google search will also turn up scores of relevant links to commentary on the ASA resolution and on the issue of the academic boycott of Israel in general.”  And a specific resource he linked to was the ASA Facebook page.

Now I stopped by that page which, as it turns out, had only been created on December 3rd (and announced to the membership, as noted above, on December 11, or just four days before voting on the boycott will end).  The page has been set up so that only certain people (guess who) are allowed to start threads, and – in keeping with the theme of all ASA communication on the issue – nearly every thread featured some argument supportive of a boycott.

Now comments were open and filled with the same type of “Why don’t you boycott China” vs. “Why doesn’t Israel stop dropping white phosphorous on school children” arguments you see in any boycott-related online message board, with comments apparently coming both from member and non-members.  And so I posted a challenging couple of inquiries – mostly regarding the way this whole debate was being conducted.

Now this comment was not hostile (certainly not as hostile as the accusations of racism and genocide that already dotted the site).  But within an hour, not only had my comment been deleted, but the entire thread to which it was a response had also been “disappeared.”  And when I added a comment to another thread asking why the site’s history seemed to be being rewritten before our eyes, that whole thread also vanished within minutes.

Having seen this type of thing happen before, I decided to take a screen shot of the site after posting my last comment, so you can how much debate the ASA was not willing to tolerate.

ASA Facebook Comment (2)

If you visit the site today (at least as of this morning) you will see that it has been cleansed of every posting relevant to the boycott posted yesterday (December 11).

Under normal circumstances, I’d take solace in the notion of hypocrisy being the complement vice pays to virtue.  But what are we to make of an organization that, in attempting to shut down inquiry with their Israeli colleagues is ready to first shut it down among its own members while simultaneously sending out e-mails urging people to participate in “discussion and healthy debate”?

I expect comments on this site to stick around for a while, so any ASA members out there should feel free to tell me if I’m missing something.