Harriet Sherwood wants Israeli Jews to feel the ‘pain’ of exclusion

A few hours before the Israeli government was set to approve a new deal with the Palestinians to extend peace talks till 2015 – which involved the release of the final batch of pre-Oslo prisoners,  hundreds of additional prisoners and a partial curb in construction beyond the green line – the Palestinians signed letters seeking acceptance to 15 UN treaties and conventions, reneging on their agreement of July 2013 to refrain from making unilateral moves. 

The last-minute breakdown throws the possibility that talks will proceed past the April 29 deadline into serious doubt, and was followed by additional Palestinian demands. These include Israeli recognition of the pre-1967 lines with east Jerusalem as its capital, the release of 1,200 more prisoners (including Marwan Barghouti), a complete cessation of settlement construction, the imposition of PA sovereignty over Area C, a halt to Israeli anti-terror operations in PA-controlled territories, and a lifting the arms blockade on Gaza.

Anyone who’s been closely following negotiations would understand that Palestinians were counting down the days until the April 29 deadline when they would be free to execute what Jerusalem Post correspondent Herb Kenion refers to as their Plan B – waging diplomatic warfare against Israel to isolate it, delegitimize it, and eventually force it through international pressure to give in to their maximalist demands.

Such a plan of political warfare is largely inspired by what’s known as the Durban Strategy, a declaration adopted in the 2001 NGO Forum of the UN’s Durban conference. The Durban campaign – itself the political successor to the Arab boycott launched in 1945, three years before Israeli statehood – featured numerous expressions of antisemitism, focused on labeling Israel an ‘apartheid state’ guilty of ‘ethnic cleansing’, ‘genocide’, and ‘war crimes’”, and adopted a resolution calling for the “complete and total isolation of Israel…the imposition of mandatory and comprehensive sanctions and embargoes, [and] the full cessation of all links between all states and Israel.”  

What’s known today as the modern BDS movement – which singles out the Jewish state, alone among the family of nations, for a coordinated campaign of boycotts, sanctions, divestment and social exclusion – was essentially born on that day.

Though the Guardian’s coverage of the region has consistently legitimized, amplified and provided succor the BDS movement, an op-ed published at ‘Comment is Fee’ (A boycott can jolt Israelis from their somnolence on Palestine, April 4) explicitly endorsing BDS was noteworthy in that it wasn’t written by an anti-Zionist activist, but rather by one of their ‘serious journalists’ – their outgoing Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood.

To those of us familiar with Sherwood’s brand of activist journalism, it is not at all surprising that she has expressed her support for BDS, nor that – despite glaring evidence attesting to Palestinian refusal to budge on vital topics such as the long-term final agreement issues of refugees, mutual recognition, or even the demand that a final peace agreement include an end to all Palestinian claims against Israel – would be ignored.

What largely stands out in her polemical attack is the contempt she seems to possess for average Israelis.  While she has eloquently expressed her affection for Palestinians, Israeli Jews – even after all this time in the country - clearly seem to stand beyond the limits of her imaginative sympathy. 

The op-ed – illustrated with photo of privileged Israelis “soaking up the sun on a Tel Aviv beach”, oblivious to “the daily grind experienced by more than 4 million Palestinians” – begins by citing a few recent BDS victories before contending that BDS, in protest of its “47-year occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza”, is gathering steam.  Sherwood repeats a quote by Israel’s prime minister which attacked Europe and its “dark history” and demanded that “the boycotters must be exposed for what they are… classical antisemites in modern garb”, to which the Guardian journalist responds:

“This is a serious charge, and one that causes deep discomfort to many who want to bring pressure to bear on the Israeli government over its policies towards the Palestinians, but who also vigorously oppose antisemitism in any form. Opposing the occupation does not equate to antisemitism or a rejection of Jews’ right to, and need for, a homeland. The repeated accusation of antisemitism does not make it true, however frequently it is leveled by those who defend Israel unconditionally.”

Of course, Sherwood – who has never, in nearly four years of covering the region, addressed the issue of the extreme (and quite real) expressions of Judeophobia within Palestinian society – fails to explain why precisely the “accusations of antisemitism” against boycott advocates who often defend Palestinians unconditionally, are unfair.  And, though she draws a distinction between BDS advocates who merely support boycotting ‘settlement’ goods and those who call for a complete boycott of the state, she doesn’t acknowledge that those who support the latter approach largely reject the right of the state to exist within any borders.

Finally, Sherwood writes about the increasing frustration felt “by Israel’s intransigence…and the failure of the international community to back up critical words with meaningful actions”, before concluding that “only when Israeli citizens and institutions feel the consequences of their government’s policies will they force change from within”.  She argues that Israelis are “shielded from the [daily grind] of occupation”, before reaching the conclusion that “economic pain, isolation and global opprobrium” will surely force Israelis “to take notice”.

First, like so many journalists covering the conflict, Sherwood seems to take as a given the benign nature of Palestinian intentions despite so much evidence to the contrary, and doesn’t acknowledge that Israelis overwhelmingly support two-states for two peoples while refusing to ignore the failure of previous ‘land for peace’ guarantees and, therefore, remaining skeptical that the creation of a Palestinian state will actually bring peace.

More pertinent to the theme in Sherwood’s op-ed, Israelis – and most Jews around the world – indeed view current calls to exclude Israeli Jews from the international community in the context of the dark history of such measures.  Such Jews naturally question the motivation of sophisticated (putatively progressive) Europeans who see the unimaginable violence and brutality meted out to Arabs by other Arabs in the Middle East – which includes the systemic violation of the rights of women, gays and political dissidents, and (in some cases) industrial-scale killing and torture – and yet believe that the only country whose citizens deserve to be boycotted just so happens to be the only one with a Jewish majority.

The duplicity of pro-Palestinian activists is represented not merely by the manner in which they gain support from the liberal-left despite the decidedly illiberal nature of the Palestinian national movement, nor the way they promote an understanding of the dispute which conflates cause (the more than 70 year Arab war against the Jewish state) with effect (the territorial dispute which only came about as the result of that war).  No; their supreme deceit relates to how they manage to convince so many within the opinion elite that – unlike every other time in history - this time those campaigning for the exclusion of Jewish professionals, academics and artists are morally justified; that this time a small community of Jews can truly represent an organic obstacle to peace and progress; that this time it truly is malevolent Jewish behavior that brings about measures singling out Jews for opprobrium and sanction.

However, though many Zionists are secular, most thankfully are imbued with a rich and edifying tradition which explains that ‘What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; and there is nothing new under the sun’.  Try as they may, no degree of sophistry employed by boycott proponents can possibly convince us to accept the supremacy of the au courant morality over the ethics of our fathers, to not see this latest political attack through the lens of Jewish history, nor to avoid reaching the conclusion that - as in every generation – resistance to their assault will be fierce and, in time, succeed.

‘This too shall pass’. 

Enhanced by Zemanta

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.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tell the International Assoc. of Architects to reject RIBA’s racist boycott of Israelis

We recently posted about a Guardian report on a resolution by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) which called on Union of International Architects (UIA) to suspend the membership of the Israeli Association of United Architects “until it acts to resist projects on illegally-occupied land and observes international law and accords”.  

We noted that this appalling decision represents a prime example of the racist double standards at the heart of the BDS movement, as RIBA singles out Israeli architects among the 74 members of the UIA – a list which includes Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria, among others.

It appears that the resolution was based in part on the anti-Israel activism of RIBA’s past President Angela Brady, and a dishonest and highly propagandistic presentation by an extreme Jewish critic of Israel named Abe Hayeem. Hayeem is a RIBA member, chair of Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine and ‘Comment is Free’ contributor.

may17-03-607

Abe Hayeem (2003)

(You can hear Hayeem in this audio, from an anti-Israel demo in London in 2003, accuse the “neo-fascist” government of Israel of engaging in a policy of “transfer”, “ethnic cleansing”, “state terrorism” and “apartheid” against Palestinians, and calling for a complete trade embargo against the state.)

However, there’s been some push back against RIBA’s resolution by Stephen Gamesa RIBA member who published an op-ed at The Jewish Chronicle condemning the organization’s bigotry and hypocrisy, and calling for the removal of their Royal Charter if the resolution is not reversed.  

@stephengames

Stephen Games

Mr. Games has published the following open letter to the president of RIBA.

Dear President,

I am not a member of any interest group within the RIBA but was nonetheless disappointed to learn of Council’s decision to call for the Israeli architects’ body to be suspended from the International Union of Architects. I had no previous knowledge that this was coming up for a vote, I have not seen it reported in the RIBA, and I have not had any documentation about it, otherwise I would have protested earlier.

I object to the vote for five reasons:

1.0  The vote was biased

1.1  Council’s decision is wrong and misconceived. I completely accept that the principle of Israel’s building on land won by Israel when resisting efforts by combined Arab forces to destroy it in 1967 is contentious, politically motivated and merits questioning. It is designed to provide housing for Israelis and to redefine future borders. It will however either cease when an agreement is reached between Israel and the Palestinian Authority or will continue legitimately, either within a newly drawn Israel or a newly drawn Palestinian state. 

1.2  The fact that no such agreement has yet been reached reflects the fact that terms have not yet been drawn up that satisfy both sides. Council’s decision implicitly means that the RIBA blames Israel alone for the fact that an agreement has not yet been reached.

1.3  For the RIBA to blame one side for censure is inappropriate. The RIBA is not a political body, it has no special insight into the dispute, nor is there anything in its constitution that should lead it to be partisan. The RIBA’s proper role is to preserve neutrality. To do otherwise is to act outside its mandate as a royal body. 

2.0  The vote was intrusive and mischievous

2.1  The decision suggests that the argument about Israeli building needs to be specially highlighted. It does not. There is already vocal opposition within Israel itself to “settlement building”. Significant numbers of IAUA members are themselves opposed to such building and do not need or wish to be removed from international platforms such as the International Union. They themselves see this as unhelpful and unfriendly action by foreign busy-bodies, designed not to ameliorate conditions but to demonise one side and one side alone in the dispute.

2.2  Votes such as this do not resolve problems. They drive the opposed parties further apart.

3.0  The vote was unfair

3.1  In voting for the Israeli Association of United Architects to be suspended, Council is taking action that it has taken against no other country. The meaning of this is that the RIBA finds Israel uniquely reprehensible in the world, or more reprehensible than any other country, in terms of human rights abuse. This flies in the face of all evidence. In the most recent (2011) Observer human rights index, Israel did not appear in even the top 20 of human rights abusers, which were listed as (in order):

1. Congo   2. Rwanda   3. Burundi   4. Algeria   5. Sierra Leone  

6. Egypt   7. North Korea   8. Sudan   9. Indonesia   10. Yugoslavia  

11. Pakistan   12. China   13. Libya   14. Burma   15. Iraq  

16. Afghanistan   17. Iran   18. Yemen   19. Chad  20.  Congo (Republic).

3.2  In Iraq, gays are rounded up by police, thrown into prison and tortured; Israel, by contrast, serves as a haven for gays in the Middle East, even mounting an annual Gay Pride march, an event unthinkable elsewhere in the region.

3.3  Israel is a country of political and religious pluralism. Freedom of expression and worship is welcomed. Israeli Arabs, both Christian and Muslim, are a full part of Israeli society, and can and do serve as parliamentarians in the Israeli Knesset. In no Arab country, and in few Muslim countries, is the presence of Israelis or Jews even tolerated.

3.4  Israel’s architectural body is itself made up of Israeli Arabs as well as others. Nowhere does such reciprocity exist in Arab or Muslim countries.

3.5  If the vote against Israel is to stand, it must logically be followed by similar calls for architects in countries beyond the Middle East to be banned.

4.0  The vote was reductive

4.1  If Council wishes to support the aspirations of the Palestinians, it has an obligation not to do so at Israel’s expense. Politics should not be a zero-sum game: the RIBA should recognise that both Israelis and Palestinians deserve to end up with better outcomes. In Council’s vote, however, support for Palestinians was expressed in language defined entirely by vitriolic negativity towards Israel. This is utterly inappropriate and gives rise to reasonable speculation that the vote was as much about hostility to Israel as about support for Palestinians.

4.2  As the aftermath of the Arab springs has shown, Middle Eastern politics is far more complex than the simplistic “Palestinians-good/Israel-bad” formula that supporters of the vote in Council represented. The reductivism that Council has voted for is shameful in its effort to resort to pre-Arab Spring blindness about long-standing Middle East rivalries and hostilities, of which hatred of Israel is neither the biggest nor the most entrenched.

4.3  If Council truly wished to have a say only about the Middle East, it should be supporting all people in the region who are truly suffering victimisation and oppression. If the vote in Council is allowed to stand, it must therefore be followed by a huge programme of similar and more appropriate calls for suspension—especially against Egypt, Syria, Libya, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran—and especially against other countries whose treatment of Palestinians is much more reprehensible than that of Israel, but whose actions are deliberately ignored and veiled by obsessive opponents of Israel who wish only to use the Palestinian cause to damage Israel.

5.0  The vote disgraces the RIBA

5.1  For the reasons given, by allowing the vote against Israel to stand, the RIBA risks emerging not as a body that supports Palestinians but as a body with an in-built and unprincipled prejudice against Israel and legitimate Jewish aspiration.

5.2  For more than a thousand years, the Christian Church attempted to eradicate Judaism, either by mass killing or mass conversion. Were it the case that the majority of Council members came from Christian backgrounds, some observers might conclude that the vote continued a long-standing cultural prejudice against Jews within our society in general and within the RIBA in particular. 

5.2  The campaign to boycott Israel is also bound up with a much more insidious pan-Arab and pan-Muslim campaign to delegitimise Israel and eradicate it as a state. Thus, a millennium of opposition to Jews being Jews could be seen to be joining forces with a century-long campaign to prevent Israel being Israel.

5.3  In voting for Israel’s suspension, the RIBA could be seen as siding with the most vicious campaigners against not just boycott and divestment but against Israel’s legitimacy and its survival as a state.

Conclusion

No one could want to belong to a body that can be characterised as anti-semitic, nor is it appropriate that an institutionally anti-semitic body should retain its royal charter. 

In view of the above, I urge the RIBA to reverse its decision as soon as possible. If it does not, there will inevitably be a campaign calling for the removal of the royal charter, and this will involve much unnecessary expenditure of time and effort all round.

I am copying this letter to the press.

Yours sincerely

Stephen Games

To assist Mr. Games and others in the UK who oppose the boycott, please sign this petition , and (per the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s approach) 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

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Harriet Sherwood reports on latest target of anti-Zionist witch-hunt: Israeli architects

As Harriet Sherwood’s days as the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent wind down, she’s evidently decided to use her remaining time doing what she does best: legitimizing the most marginal and hypocritical efforts to demonize and delegitimize Israeli Jews.  Her latest report focuses on efforts – by some ‘sophisticated’ Brits – to isolate the latest international ‘misfortune’: Israeli architects. 

Sherwood’s report begins:

Britain’s leading architectural association has called for its Israeli counterpart to be excluded from the International Union of Architects in protest at Israel‘s occupation of Palestine, in a further indication of the growing momentum of the boycott movement.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) has demanded the suspension of the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA) from the international body, saying it is complicit in the construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and other violations of international law.

Riba’s president, Angela Brady, told a meeting of the its council on Wednesday that failure to back the motion “would send a clear message to the world that we as an institution turn a blind eye or by inaction support what’s going on – land grabs, forced removals, killing the state and human rights, and reinforcement of apartheid“.

Additionally, we glanced at the website of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) which provides more information on the effort to boycott Israeli architects:

The full RIBA motion, proposed by RIBA Immediate Past President, Angela Brady, was:

“Since the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA) has paid no regard to the UIA resolution 13* of 2005 and 2009, the RIBA calls on the UIA, as the international guardian of professional and ethical standards in our profession, to suspend the membership of the Israeli Association of United Architects, until it acts to resist these illegal projects, and observes international law, and the UIA Accords and Resolution 13.”

So, what does Resolution 13 say:

*UIA’s Resolution 13 (2005 and 2009) states that “The UIA Council condemns development projects and the construction of buildings on land that has been ethnically purified or illegally appropriated, and projects based on regulations that are ethnically or culturally discriminatory, and similarly it condemns all action contravening the fourth Geneva Convention”.

So, leaving aside the fact that RIBA evidently has no problem with the other 74 members of the International Union of Architects – a list which includes Pakistan, China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Syria – it seems that, per their own language opposing building on lands which has been “ethnically purified”, they should boycott a member “state” known as ‘Palestine.

You see, while  there are no restrictions on the purchase of private land in Israel by Israeli Arabs or by non-citizens (nor any such restrictions on leasing public land to Arabs by the Israeli Land Authority), the Palestinian Authority bans the sale of land to Jews. The Palestinian Land Law, which was originally put in force by Jordan when they occupied the West Bank, carries the death sentence.

Is it even debatable that banning the sale of land based solely on the fact that the potential buyer is Jewish represents a perfect example of “ethnically purifying” the land?

But, of course, the BDS movement has never been concerned with the equal application of moral standards, but, rather, with legitimizing their racist witch-hunt – the targeting of Israeli Jews for delegitimization, demonization and exclusion.  

Enhanced by Zemanta

Guardian interviewer is incredulous at ScarJo’s refusal to cave to BDS bullies

In a 2700 word March 16 cover story about Scarlett Johansson – titled “In Alien Territory” –  published at The Observer (sister publication of the Guardian), roughly 600 words deal with the row involving the actress’s decision to step down as Oxfam ambassador after the NGO criticized her for becoming global brand ambassador for SodaStream.

alien

The Observer, March 16

While Johansson acquitted herself quite well in the interview, conducted by Carole Cadwalladr, what most stands out is how even their media group’s culture critics automatically become experts on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and adopt the Guardian narrative about the conflict.

 is a features writer for The Observer, and though it doesn’t seem she’s ever weighed in on the issues of BDS and Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria previously, she wasn’t shy about boldly making it known which party is in the wrong.

Cadwalladr begins discussing the SodaStream row in the following passages:

I move on to…a difficult subject. SodaStream. When I Google “Scarlett Johansson” the fizzy-drinks maker is the third predictive search suggestion in the list, after “Scarlett Johansson hot” – before even “Scarlett Johansson bum”. A month ago, Johansson found herself caught up in a raging news story when it emerged Oxfam had written to her regarding her decision to become a brand ambassador for SodaStream.

The company, it transpired, manufactures its products in a factory in a settlement on the West Bank, and while “Oxfam respects the independence of our ambassadors,” it wrote, it also “believes that businesses that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support”.

It of course would be more accurate to say that one of SodaStream’s 13 plants is located in the West Bank’.

Cadwalladr continues:

Johansson responded by stepping down from her Oxfam role. From afar, it looked like she’d received very poor advice; that someone who is paid good money to protect her interests hadn’t done the necessary research before she’d accepted the role and that she’d unwittingly inserted herself into the world’s most intractable geopolitical conflict. By the time Oxfam raised the issue, she was going to get flak if she did step down, flak if she didn’t. Was the whole thing just a bit of a mistake?

Johansson admirably defends her decision:

But she shakes her head. “No, I stand behind that decision. I was aware of that particular factory before I signed it.” Really? “Yes, and… it still doesn’t seem like a problem. Until someone has a solution to the closing of that factory to leaving all those people destitute, that doesn’t seem like the solution to the problem.”

Naturally, Cadwalladr has no rejoinder to Johansson’s central point: that Oxfam and the BDS crowd would evidently rather see hundreds of Palestinians lose a good paying job than tolerate an Israeli factory in the West Bank.

Cadwalladr continues, and pivots to the desired talking points:

But the international community says that the settlements are illegal and shouldn’t be there.

Johansson replies:

“I think that’s something that’s very easily debatable. In that case, I was literally plunged into a conversation that’s way grander and larger than this one particular issue. And there’s no right side or wrong side leaning on this issue.”

Cadwalladr, the Guardian Group journalist that she is, obviously has a little stomach for nuance on the dreaded ‘settlements’ issue, and feigns expertise:

Except, there’s a lot of unanimity, actually, I say, about the settlements on the West Bank.

Evidently, we can assume that the Observer journalist has thoroughly read Article 49(6) of the 1949 Geneva Convention (the primary document cited by international bodies in their determination that Settlements are illegal).  Further, we can be confident that she has come to the conclusion that Israelis who voluntarily moved beyond the green line in the years following  the Six Day War evoke the inhumane practices of the Nazis during and before World War II which that article of the Convention was meant to address.  And, she no doubt also believes that the Convention text concerning “the mass transfer of people into and out of occupied territories for purposes of extermination, slave labor or colonization” should be read to prohibit an Israeli factory in one such ‘settlement’ which employs both Jews and Palestinians.

Johansson responds:

“I think in the UK there is,” she says. “That’s one thing I’ve realised… I’m coming into this as someone who sees that factory as a model for some sort of movement forward in a seemingly impossible situation.”

Cadwalladr smugly replies:

Well, not just the UK. There’s also the small matter of the UN security council, the UN general assembly, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Court of Justice… which all agree that they’re in contravention of international law

Then Cadwalladr gets patronising:

Half of me admires Johansson for sticking to her guns –

Then she gets insulting:

her mother is Jewish and she obviously has strong opinions about Israel and its policies. Half of me thinks she’s hopelessly naive. Or, most likely, poorly advised. Of all the conflicts in all the world to plant yourself in the middle of…

Cadwalladr of course has no idea whether the fact that Johansson’s mother is Jewish influenced her decision to represent SodaStream.

She then suggests a less than admirable motive which ‘some’ may impute:

“When I say a mistake,” I say, “I mean partly because people saw you making a choice between Oxfam – a charity that is out to alleviate global poverty – and accepting a lot of money to advertise a product for a commercial company. For a lot of people, that’s like making a choice between charity – good – and lots of money – greed.”

Johansson responds:

“Sure I think that’s the way you can look at it. But I also think for a non-governmental organisation to be supporting something that’s supporting a political cause… there’s something that feels not right about that to me. There’s plenty of evidence that Oxfam does support and has funded a BDS [boycott, divest, sanctions] movement in the past. It’s something that can’t really be denied.”

Finally, Cadwalladr writes:

When I contacted Oxfam, it denied this.

Oxfam may deny it all they like, but as NGO Monitor (NGOM) demonstrated, they simply are not being honest.

Not only is Oxfam – as Johansson said - a highly politicized organization, NGOM’s director Gerald Steinberg has written the following in response to Oxfam’s denial that they support BDS:

Oxfam denied that it was involved in BDS, but the facts proved the contrary. Between 2011 and 2013, the Dutch branch, known as Oxfam Novib, provided almost $500,000 (largely from government funds provided ostensibly for humanitarian aid) to one of the most radical BDS leaders, the Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP). This group also received funds from Oxfam GB (Great Britain). The discrepancy between Oxfam’s claims and the documentation of its role in BDS was highlighted by SodaStream executives and in a number of media articles.

Although CWP is technically an Israel-based NGO, almost all of its activities are focused externally in promoting boycott campaigns, particularly in Europe. (For political purposes, ever since the NGO Forum of the infamous 2001 UN Durban anti-racism conference, the Arab and European leaders of BDS often use fringe Israeli and Jewish groups as facades, and this is the case with CWP.) 

Though Cadwalladr was wrong on the facts, “half of me admires” her “for sticking to her guns”.  But “half of me thinks she’s hopelessly naive…or, most likely, poorly advised” by her Guardian handlers.

“Of all the conflicts in all the world to plant yourself in the middle of…”

Enhanced by Zemanta

Times reporter Catherine Philp falsely claims Oxfam cut ties with Johansson

In the short time we’ve been monitoring the work of Times Middle East correspondent Catherine Philp, we’ve already noted a few significant errors. (Note: All Times stories referenced below are behind pay walls.)

philp

  • And, in late December we fisked an ugly smear (Settlements choke peace in little town of Bethlehem, Dec. 24) suggesting that Israel was ruining Christmas in Bethlehem, and which contained the false claim – later corrected by Times editors – that the Christian holy city had become more densely populated than Gaza.

The latest report by Philp which caught our eye was a curiously titled piece (Israel starts new propaganda war to beat boycott, Feb. 11) about efforts by Israeli government officials to combat boycott efforts, and included this passage:

Oxfam was accused of promoting an anti-Israeli boycott last month when it parted company with Scarlett Johansson, the Hollywood star, over her promotional work for SodaStream. The Israeli company manufactures products in a West Bank settlement.

Of course, the claim that Oxfam “parted company with Scarlett Johansson” is not true.  

As statements by both Oxfam and Johansson - and every other media outlet and blog we are aware of – made clear, it was Johansson who ‘parted company’ with Oxfam after the highly politicized NGO criticized her decision to become the global brand ambassador for SodaStream.  

We contacted editors at The Times concerning this false claim and are awaiting a reply.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Do Jews muzzle critics with false charges of antisemitism? A reply to the Irish Times

Free-Palestine-Anti-Semitic-Carlos-LatuffIn the past several months the Irish Times published three op-eds by a socialist named Eamonn McCann – diatribes which included a pejorative use of the term “chosen people” to suggest that Israeli attacks against non-Jews are arguably inspired by a belief in their own superiority, a prediction of the Jewish State’s ultimate demise and the claim that racism lies at the core of Israel’s official ideology.

Yet, evidently, the progressive voices who gather in Dublin don’t feel they are completely free to tell us what they really think.

An official (unsigned) Irish Times editorial (The right to be wrong, Feb. 6) about the injurious effects of activists who attempt to suppress free speech begins with the following passage:

When an Israeli minister over the weekend accused US Secretary of State John Kerry of serving as a mouthpiece for anti-Semitic views he was only doing what countless other defenders of Israel have done in associating even mild criticism of the state’s policies with anti-Semitism. It is a bullying rhetorical device, often deeply unfair, that in practice successfully muzzles many critics, and not least, by playing on national guilt, German critics. And it is particularly effective in the US where the Israel lobby finds such a strong echo.

First, the row they’re addressing began when US Secretary of State John Kerry said the following last week in Munich, commenting on the likely harm to Israel if a two-state agreement isn’t reached:

“You see, for Israel there’s an increasing de-legitimization campaign that has been building up. People are very sensitive to it. There is talk of boycotts and other kinds of things…Today’s status quo absolutely, to a certainty, I promise you 100 percent, cannot be maintained. It’s not sustainable. It’s illusionary. There’s a momentary prosperity, there’s a momentary peace.”

As we noted in a recent post, the Israeli minister in question, Naftali Bennett, didn’t accuse Kerry of being antisemitic, only that such boycott efforts are antisemitic.  Indeed, the belief that boycott campaigns which single out Israel – and only Israel – are indeed antisemitic, per a recent survey by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, is shared by 72% of European Jews.

So, unpacking the Irish Times argument:

What first stands out in the editorial is their evidently sincere belief that, due to smears by pro-Israel Jews, Israel’s opponents are “muzzled” and the state is spared its fair share of criticism, representing a simply astonishing inversion in light of the disproportionate (often obsessive) negative focus on the state by the mainstream media, NGOs and international bodies such as the UN.

Moreover, by giving voice to what’s known as the Livingstone Formulation (named after the former London mayor), in suggesting that Jews raise the issue of antisemitism “in response to even mild criticism of the state’s policies” in order to “muzzle” debate, they’re in effect engaging in an ad hominem attack on Jewish communities.  That is, they’re not just simply rationally refuting accusations of antisemitism, but imputing bad faith and dishonesty to those who do – an increasingly popular meme on the anti-Zionist left.

However, while reasonable people can of course disagree on what constitutes anti-Jewish racism, the overwhelming majority of Jews who talk seriously about antisemitism are merely asking those who fancy themselves anti-racists to avoid tropes, narratives, graphic depictions and policies based on – or which evoke – anti-Jewish prejudices, and which have historically been employed by reactionary movements which initiated assaults on Jews and Jewish communities.

Boycotts which single out the Jewish state evoke, for most Jews, racist boycotts targeting Jews and Jewish businesses of previous eras, and so necessarily poison the political environment that Jews inhabit.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with the proposition that anti-Israel boycotts are motivated by antisemitism (or have an antisemitic effect), Jews who passionately believe so should (at the very least) not have their motives and sincerity questioned, or their integrity maligned.

Related Articles:

What Jews talk about when they talk about antisemitism (cifwatch.com)

Oxfam spokesperson owned by SodaStream’s Daniel Birnbaum on BBC Newsnight

Back in the 60s, anti-war activists sometimes used the pejorative phrase “you have to burn the village to save it” to condemn US military tactics in Vietnam, to (unfairly) characterize the alleged destruction of North Vietnamese villages for the larger purpose of purging Viet Cong forces from the area.  

While such sloganeering was something of a specialty within the anti-war movement, that particular sentiment comes to mind when considering the mindless, destructive campaign by Oxfam, and like-minded pro-BDS groups, against the SodaStream factory in Mishor Adumim.

As you’ll see in the following clip of a segment on BBC’s Newsnight, which aired last night, Oxfam (an anti-poverty organization!) would evidently rather see 500 Palestinians fired from their jobs than tolerate the presence of a successful Israeli owned factory in Area C of the West Bank.  

Though there are some anti-settlement lies that go unchallenged during the debate, the hypocrisy and moral obtuseness of Oxfam and the broader anti-SodaStream movement is clearly revealed in the exchange between Newsnight host Jeremy Paxman, Oxfam’s Director of Policy Ben Phillips and SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum.

h/t Elder

Enhanced by Zemanta

Guardian caves to anti-Israel bigots, revises SodaStream article to please Ben White

Yesterday, CiF Watch prompted a correction to a false claim by Guardian Middle East editor Ian Black that the SodaStream main office was located in Ma’ale Adumim, when in fact that industrial park in greater Ma’ale Adumim (known as Mishor Adumim) is simply the location of one of their 20 factories. Their headquarters, as we noted, is in Lod, near Ben Gurion Airport.  (CiF Watch prompted a previous correction to the same error, by another Guardian contributor, in Oct.)

However, upon reviewing the language of the correction we prompted on the Guardian’s Correction page, we noticed an additional editor’s note relating to another SodaStream related story:

correction

According to (occasional) ‘Comment is Free’ contributor Ben White, per his following post at Electronic Intifada, he was the activist who prompted the revision:

Responding to my correspondence, The Guardian’s Readers’ Editor has amended an article written last week by Matthew Kalman.

Kalman’s article reported on the controversy over Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson ditching her role as humanitarian ambassador for the charity Oxfam, which objected to her endorsement deal with SodaStream, an Israeli company with a factory in a settlement in the occupied West Bank.

The piece, “Oxfam under pressure to cut ties with Scarlett Johansson over SodaStream ad,” now appears with the following appended text:

“In a sub-heading and in the body of the text campaigners seeking to pressure Oxfam to sever ties with Scarlett Johansson were described as “anti-Israel.” To clarify: the campaigners are opposed to settlements”

Remarkably, the Guardian Readers’ Editor upheld the objections to Kalman’s original characterization of the anti-SodaStream activists as “anti-Israel”, and bought the argument that they are only opposed to ‘the settlements’.  

To give you a sense of how extraordinarily misleading such a benign characterization is, here’s a brief summary of the ideological background of some of the more prominent BDS activists and groups involved in the anti-SodaStream campaign:

Ben White: White, who evidently prompted the Guardian correction and is one of the most vocal activists campaigning against SodaStream, opposes the existence of a Jewish State within any borders, and is even on record expressing sympathy towards anti-Semites:

Ali Abunimah: Abunimah is the co-founder of Electronic Intifada, has expressed sympathy towards Hamas, rejects Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State within any borders, has likened Zionism with Nazism and has explicitly called for the start of a 3rd deadly Palestinian intifada.

Here are additional anti-SodaStream campaigners – that is, those who would prefer that 500 Palestinians workers get laid-off, rather than there be any Jewish presence at all across the green line:

Palestinian BDS National Committee, a radical movement which opposes all forms of normalization between Palestinians and Israelis, and supports the unlimited ‘right of return’ for Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants, a tactic designed to erase Israel’s Jewish identity.  

Palestine Solidarity Campaign: a marginal, radical movement based in the UK, which supports the cultural, academic and economic boycott against Israel, and opposes the existence of a Jewish State within any borders. Further, PSC members have taken  part in convoysflotillasflytillas, and various demonstrations and events organized by supporters and members of terrorist organisations. 

Code Pink: A radical left group whichworks with the pro-Hamas Free Gaza Movement, and signed the so-called Cairo Declaration to End Israeli Apartheid, a document which opposes Zionism and calls for the unlimited right of return for millions of Palestinian ‘refugees’. (See this clip of Hamas welcoming a Code Pink delegation to Gaza in 2009)

To recap: Most of the activists aligned against SodaStream have either expressed sympathy or outright support for Islamist terror groups, support the boycott and complete isolation of Israel, oppose any cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians, and reject the very right of Israel to exist as a Jewish State. 

Only in the mind of Guardian editors would such hateful views – some which are indistinguishable from the ideologies of violent extremist groups – not qualify as “anti-Israel”.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Anti-SodaStream agenda revealed: Harming the livelihood of 500 Palestinians

The Guardian’s first few days of coverage of the debate over Scarlett Johansson’s role as global ambassador for SodaStream, and her subsequent decision to step down as Oxfam ambassador, was, by their standards, relatively fair.  However, yesterday, true to form, they published a commentary at ‘Comment is Free’ supporting the boycott and criticizing Johansson’s involvement with the Israeli based company.

Here is the most relevant passage in a commentary by Vijay Prashad titled ‘Scarlett Johansson is right; the face of SodaStream doesn’t fit with Oxfam, Jan. 30:

Johansson’s new job posed a serious problem for Oxfam. The charity has over the years taken a strong position against Israel’s illegal settlement construction at the same time as it has worked to deliver much-needed goods and services to the encaged population in the occupied Palestinian territories. In a powerful briefing paper from 2012, Oxfam called on Israel to “immediately halt the construction of all illegal settlements” and end “policies and practices that are illegal under international law and harm the livelihood of Palestinian civilians”.

Leaving his agitprop aside, Prashad’s suggestion that the SodaStream plant in Mishor Adumim would “harm the livelihood of Palestinian civilians” is the opposite of the truth. Indeed, if BDS activists got their wish the plant would close, ending employment – which includes above par wages and generous benefits – for over 500 Palestinians (and hundreds of Israelis) currently employed there.

So, it appears as if BDS activists like Prashad are the ones who threaten to “harm the livelihood of Palestinian civilians”

So fanatical is the BDS cause that Israeli-Palestinian co-existence and laying the seeds of economic development for the future Palestinian state necessarily take a back seat to their malign obsession with Israel.

Of course, peace is likely the furthest thing from Prashad’s mind, as he is on the Advisory Board of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, an organization which characterizes Zionism as a form of ethnic or racial supremacy, and opposes the existence of the Jewish state within any borders.  

(Curiously, the Guardian failed to note Prashad’s affiliation with the pro-BDS group, an extremely misleading omission in the context of his explicit support for boycotting SodaStream.)

As Prashad’s commentary again indicates, anti-Zionists are not only hostile to Israeli communities across the green line, but fundamentally oppose the Jewish right to self-determination, the concept of two-states for two peoples and all efforts to promote peace and co-existence.

Remind us again why such ideological extremists are continually framed as ‘liberal’ activists by the Guardian and the mainstream media.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Win for co-existence, eco-friendly products & Scarlett Johansson = BDS Fail

In light of news today concerning Scarlett Johansson’s stand against BDS bullies in stepping down as Oxfam ambassador, while refusing to resign from her position as global brand ambassador for the Israeli company SodaStream, we thought you’d enjoy this clip of an interview a colleague and I conducted with company CEO Daniel Birnbaum at their corporate offices in Lod.  

In the video, recorded a few months ago, Birnbaum responds to our question about pressure from BDS activists regarding their plant at Mishor Adumim which employs Jewish and Arab Israelis - and over 500 Palestinians.

We also spoke to an Israeli Arab production manager, by phone, at Mishor Adumim named Barhum Muhammed, and asked him about the working conditions there, and about a false charge leveled by a British reporter that there was a pay disparity between Jews and Palestinians.

Finally, just for fun, here’s SodaStream’s ‘banned’ Super Bowl commercial featuring Johansson singing the praises of the eco-friendly home soda-making product:

Enhanced by Zemanta

Confirmed: Harriet Sherwood announces her departure from Jerusalem

A source recently forwarded us the following email, confirming information we had received a couple of weeks ago.

harriet sherwoodWe have been monitoring Sherwood’s work at the Guardian since her debut as their Jerusalem correspondent in July of 2010, and though in many ways her coverage was fully consistent with the politics of the Guardian Left, pro-Palestinian circles in which she travels, we also published a few posts which noted her modest growth as a reporter. 

Here are a few of the more popular CiF Watch posts about Sherwood’s reporting.

1. Harriet Sherwood does her bit for BDS

2.  Harriet Sherwood’s Munich Massacre story follows Guardian rule on obscuring Palestinian terrorism

3. Rosy’s: Follow-up on the Gaza spa where Harriet Sherwood got her open-air prison pedicure

4.  Where in the world was Harriet Sherwood? Well beyond the 3 nautical mile limit from Gaza coast

5. Harriet Sherwood gets it right.

6Sherwood in Jerusalem: a six month overview

7Harriet Sherwood parrots false charge of ‘Water Apartheid’

8Harriet Sherwood misleads on religious significance of the Western Wall

9Palestinian textbooks erase Israel. Harriet Sherwood erases moral distinctions.

10. Harriet Sherwood gets it right about settlers and violence.

11. Harriet Sherwood’s moral equivalence in reporting the murders in Itamar

We’ll update you when Sherwood’s permanent replacement at the Jerusalem desk is announced. 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Did the Indy get it wrong again? G4S denies being investigated over West Bank contracts

Did the Indy get it wrong again?

You may have been following our ongoing investigation into a wild story by Indy reporter Adam Withnall, in an article on Jan 1, which claimed the Israeli government is torturing Palestinian children – a reckless charge that the paper seems to have no real evidence to support.  (Though we’ve already prompted a correction to one of the specific claims made by Withnall, we’re continuing to press them to take further action and, barring any new evidence, acknowledge that the entire story is untrue.)

More recently, the Indy published an article by Business Editor Jim Armitage (based on an unnamed source) claiming the UK security company G4S “is facing an investigation by international authorities into its alleged activities in…the occupied Palestinian territories”. However, this also may be completely inaccurate.  

indy

Though, according to Armitage, the “Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) UK staff have indicated that it will be investigating the company’s work supplying Israeli security services,” according to a story in The Jewish Chronicle (The JC), a G4S spokesperson said that the Indy report was ‘wrong’.  The spokesperson further said that “the firm was not under investigation and that it had not been contacted by the OECD or any government department.”

Further, per The JC, the “OECD said it was not directly involved with any such inquiries.”

We’ll continue to follow this story and update you if there are any further developments.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Postscript to Harriet Sherwood’s ASA boycott story: Major BDS FAIL!

Though Guardian Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood consistently either ignores or plays down Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens, she rarely misses an opportunity to provide free PR for even the most marginal BDS and delegitimization campaigns targeting the Jewish State. Indeed, in December she of course found time to write an 800 word feature on a largely symbolic boycott resolution by a small number of American academics.

header

In attempting to impute significance to the motion, Sherwood wrote the following:

A prestigious US academic body has joined a growing movement to boycott Israel in protest at its treatment of Palestinians, in a move both welcomed and condemned in a bitterly divisive international arena…The American Studies Association (ASA), which has more than 5,000 members, is the most significant US academic organisation to back a boycott of Israeli educational institutions following a two-thirds majority vote.

Sherwood further contextualized the boycott motion as a victory amid the ongoing “international boycott drive against Israel”.

However, days before the ASA boycott vote was even cast, a more sober assessment on the potential anti-Israel resolution was published at this blog.  

In his CiF Watch guest post on Dec 15, Jon (from the blog DivestThis!) argued that the ASA was setting itself up for failure, and that if the vote was to pass, “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…an academic boycott is the opposite of academic freedom“.

Then, following the vote, an interesting thing occurred: A remarkably large segment of American academia indeed took steps to marginalize the ASA and stand up for the principles of academic freedom threatened by the boycott resolution.

Thanks in part to the dogged efforts of tireless activists such as William A. Jacobson, the following is a current list (per Avi Mayer) of institutions whose presidents or chancellors have publicly rejected the ASA’s academic boycott of Israel:

Additionally, the following institutions’ American Studies programs have formally withdrawn their membership in the American Studies Association (ASA) following their boycott vote:

One of the most eloquent denunciations of the boycott was issued by the President and Dean of Faculty of Trinity College in Connecticut:

To The Immediate Attention of the President of the American Studies Association:

Our Dean of the Faculty, Thomas Mitzel, and I wish to go on record renouncing the boycott of Israel on the part of the ASA.

Trinity once years back was an institutional member (we were then advertising for an open position), and apparently some members of our faculty are individual members. Were we still an institutional member, we would not be any longer after the misguided and unprincipled announcement of the boycott of the only democracy in the Middle East. The Dean and I oppose academic boycotts in general because they can so easily encroach upon academic freedom.

In this strange case, why the ASA would propose an academic boycott of Israel and not, for example, of Syria, the Sudan, North Korea, China, Iran, Iraq, or Russia escapes rational thought. Trinity has participated in the Rescue Scholar program since its inception; we have welcomed scholars from some of the most repressive countries on the planet, and it is inconceivable to us that we would ever be welcoming a Rescue Scholar fleeing Israel for political reasons.

As President of the ASA, you have tarnished a once distinguished association.

Moreover, there doesn’t seem to be a single university or major academic group in the U.S. supporting the boycott.  Indeed, anyway you parse it, if the goal of the ASA – and its anti-Zionist supporters – was to create momentum for the boycott movement, they’ve clearly failed miserably at their task.  

You can chalk this up as yet another major BDS Fail.

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.