Glenn Greenwald’s smears, distortions and lies about Brooklyn College BDS row

Over the course of several days the Guardian’s Glenn  Greenwald penned two long essays (and a short post), encompassing over 6,275 words, much of which attacked straw men, engaged in profound distortions, and included classic Greenwald vitriol and hyperbole.

GG_DNow_20101203 (1)The two full length pieces (which, not surprisingly, given that the topic is Israel, have already elicited nearly 2500 reader comments) are titled,  Brooklyn College’s academic freedom increasingly threatened over Israel event, Feb 2, and ‘NYC officials threaten funding of Brooklyn College over Israel event‘, Feb 4., and  a multi-topic post which included his first commentary on the Brooklyn College row, on Feb. 29.

Factual errors/errors of omission

A good example of a Greenwald distortion can seen early in this opening passage on Feb. 4:

“On Tuesday, I wrote about a brewing controversy that was threatening the academic freedom of Brooklyn College (see Item 7). The controversy was triggered by the sponsorship of the school’s Political Science department of an event, scheduled for 7 February, featuring two advocates of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) aimed at stopping Israeli oppression of the Palestinians [one speaker is a Palestinian (Omar Barghouti) and the other a Jewish American (philosopher Judith Butler)]”

It is simply a lie to claim that Barghouti and Butler merely aim to stop the oppression, as they are both are on record supporting the use of BDS as part of their larger goal to rid the Middle East of the Jewish state. Further, Barghouti, when not studying at Tel Aviv University, supports an academic boycott of Israel –  a ban on professors due to their national origin which would certainly seem quite inconsistent with the spirit of academic freedom.

Second, despite Greenwald’s hysterical claims, there is no threat to academic freedom at Brooklyn College. Most critics have merely objected to the fact that the political science department endorsed the BDS event and that it was going to be a one-sided debate.

In fact, one of the most prominent activists criticizing the event, Alan Dershowitz, said quite clearly that “of course, the event should go forward.” 

Hysterical, unsupportable claims

His Jan. 29 piece includes this classic Greenwald scare quote:

“It doesn’t matter what you think of the BDS movement. This is all part of a pernicious trend to ban controversial ideas from the place they should be most freely discussed: colleges and universities

 Indeed, this current controversy is a replica of the most extreme efforts by official authoritarians to suppress ideas they dislike.”

Again, contrary to what Greenwald is claiming, the event at Brooklyn College is not going to be banned. Further, to suggest that there is some “pernicious trend” of banning controversial speakers on college campuses ( which evokes censorship by “authoritarians”) is simply absurd.

Smearing his critics: Imputing the motives and tactics of BDS critics:

His Feb. 4 piece includes this:

“Plainly, this entire controversy has only one “principle” and one purpose: to threaten, intimidate and bully professors, school administrators and academic institutions out of any involvement in criticisms of Israel.”

This is a classic Greenwald tick. When pro-Israel advocates who Greenwald dislikes engage in free speech, and participate in the political process, they are always characterized by Greenwald acting dishonorably: “threatening”, “bullying” and “intimidating”.  Also, note the misleading sentence at the end: falsely suggesting again that critics of the BDS event are trying to cancel the event. They clearly are not.

Martyrs: Defending antisemites and racists as victims:

Here, Greenwald trots out some of his favorite martyrs, victims of the coordinated campaign by pro-Israel advocates to ‘stifle debate about Israel’.

“In sum, the ugly lynch mob now assembled against Brooklyn College and its academic event is all too familiar in the US when it comes to criticism of and activism against Israeli government policy. Indeed, in the US, there are few more efficient ways to have your reputation and career as a politician or academic destroyed than by saying something perceived as critical of Israel. This is not news. Ask Chas Freeman. Or Ocatavia Nasr. Or Finkelstein. Or Juan Cole. Or Stephen Walt. Or Chuck Hagel.”

Career’s ruined? Really?

  • Steven Walt enjoys a profitable speaking tour, and received a six figure advance from his publisher for the book he wrote with John Mearsheimer called ‘The Israel Lobby’.  (Walt and Mearsheimer achieved notoriety recently for defending and endorsing a book by a Holocaust denier and Nazi sympathizer named Gilad Atzmon.)
  • Juan Cole Professor of History at the University of Michigan, and a frequent commentator on Middle Eastern affairs on TV and in print media. (See a sample of Cole’s hateful and racist comments, here.)
  • Octavia Nassr served as CNN’s Senior Editor of Mideast affairs until her dismissal in July 2010 over her public statement of respect on Twitter for Hezbollah’s cleric Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, who she considered “one of Hezbollah‘s giants I respect a lot.” CNN fired her for violating standards of objectivity in its reporting, and it’s unclear how Greenwald, who frequently bemoans the failure of the media to be objective, can frame CNN’s decision as evidence of the power of the Israel lobby. (My guess is that she said something positive about al Qaeda, for instance, CNN would have similarly dismissed her.)
  • Norman Finkelstein is the author of eight books and seems to have a very lucrative speaking tour: Other than being denied tenure at DePaul University over quite legitimate question regarding the quality of his scholarship his career as an Israel critic seems to be thriving.  Though his most notorious book, “The Holocaust Industry”, was reviewed by The New York Times’ and described its premise as a “novel variation” of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, there is simply no evidence that Finkelstein has suffered any social and financial injury from the frequent criticism he faces.
  • Chas Freeman, who was in the US Foreign Service for 30 years, and, as we noted in a post yesterday, his ‘victimhood’ seems to consist of having to, in 2009, withdraw his name from consideration to be chairman of the U.S. National Intelligence Council after revelations emerged over past statements about Saudi Arabia, China, and Israel’s alleged role as a catalyst in the 9/11 attacks, which concerned many senators.  Additionally, Greenwald’s suggestion that Freeman is just “critical of Israel”, as we noted yesterday, is simply a lie.  Among Freeman’s ugly smears of American Jews, as such, is the vile, reactionary charge that Jewish supporters of Israel represent a “fifth column” in the US – that is, according to Freeman, such Jews are clandestinely seeking to undermine America from within due to their ethnic loyalties.
  • Chuck Hagel will likely be confirmed as Defense Secretary.

Finally, it’s not surprising that Greenwald would sympathize with Chas Freeman, as Greenwald himself has engaged in similar antisemitic narratives on his blog.  Here are just a few.

  • “Large and extremely influential Jewish donor groups are the ones agitating for a US war against Iran, and that is the case because those groups are devoted to promoting Israel’s interests.”
  • So absolute has the Israel-centric stranglehold on American policy been that the US Government has made it illegal to broadcast Hezbollah television stations.”
  • “Not even our Constitution’s First Amendment has been a match for the endless exploitation of American policy, law and resources [by the Israel lobby] to target and punish Israel’s enemies.”
  • “The real goal [of the Israel lobby], as always, was to ensure that there is no debate over America’s indescribably self-destructive, blind support for Israeli actions. [Charles] Freeman’s critics may have scored a short-term victory in that regard, but the more obvious it becomes what is really driving these scandals, the more difficult it will be to maintain this suffocating control over American debates and American policy.”

No doubt, Greenwald would accuse this Zionist blog of engaging in “McCarthyite smears and “stifling debate” by revealing accurate quotes demonstrating his decidedly illiberal, Judeophobic and borderline conspiratorial musings. 

The Guardian offers another CiF columnist the opportunity to fantasize about Israel’s destruction

Ghada Karmi

UK pro-Palestinian activist, and academic, Ghada Karmi has never hidden her rejection of Israel’s right to exist.  

Nor has she been reluctant to advocate what’s called a “one state solution” – the radical reconstitution of the world’s only Jewish state into a majority Muslim state in which Jews would be a minority dependent on the ‘benevolence’ of the non-Jewish majority.

Karmi also believes Israel’s supporters in the U.S. exert a dangerous influence on the American political system.

Karmi, for instance, once referred to pro-Israeli advocates, for instance, as “intellectual terrorists“.

She also wrote the following at CiF about such pro-Israeli activists in the U.S:

“…People [in the U.S.] are hardened or resigned to having their freedom of expression limited by the pro-Israel lobby.”

Also, she wrote:

[Due to pressure from the Jewish lobby] Presidents…will…do anything to support Israel.

In this YouTube clip, she address a crowd on the question of why the U.S. supports Israel, and says:

“The U.S. is not free.  It is constrained by the power of the [Jewish] lobby.”

Not surprisingly, she also has co-operated with the International Solidarity Movement – the group which harbored suicide bombers in Israel.

Yet, in the Guardian’s jaundiced view of what constitutes left-wing and right-wing thought, Karmi is evidently a left-leaning progressive in good standing, and her latest essay represents her 16th entry at ‘Comment is Free’ since 2002.

Her latest post, Sept. 20, represents more of the same, and is titled, ‘Palestinians need a one-state solution‘.

As it often the case with Israel haters, truth is always subservient to the greater narrative, and Karmi’s following claim is a perfect illustration.

“The colonisation process continues unabated, and to date Israel has resisted every call for a settlement based on a two-state solution.” [emphasis added]

The fiction of Israeli intransigence, in contrast to peace-loving Palestinians, represents such an extreme inversion of reality that the following must be noted:

  • In 1967, after defending itself against another war of annihilation, the Israelis voted unanimously to return the vast majority of territories it had captured in exchange for peace. The Arab response was unequivocal: “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it”.

Further, Karmi, in her CiF piece, mocks Mahmoud Abbas’ intention to seek statehood (unilaterally or otherwise), and argues for “a reassessment of Palestinian political strategy”, one which “think[s] beyond the two-state solution.”

Karmi writes:

“This situation demands a new Palestinian strategy, a Plan B that converts the Palestinian struggle for two states into one.”

The demand, of course, for the Jewish state’s dissolution – by Karmi, Ben White, Ali Abunimah, Omar Barghouti, Antony Lerman, Moussa Abu Marzouk, or other commentators whose anti-Zionist fantasies are given legitimacy on the pages of the Guardian – will never, ever be accepted by Israelis.

This is not 1937.  The Peel Commission has adjourned.

The end of one-state dreams died when the nascent Jewish state miraculously emerged victorious after the Arabs launched a war of destruction in 1948.

Israeli Jews will never, ever entertain the politically regressive suggestion that they return to the status of a subjugated (or, at best, tolerated) minority, dependent on the benevolence of a historically hostile majority.  

Any attempt to ‘impose’ such a solution will be met by fierce, uncompromising Jewish resistance.

While most Israelis are willing, in the event of a serious peace proposal by the Palestinians, to be extremely flexible, and make painful territorial compromises, our freedom and national sovereignty – which Jews suffered and sacrificed unimaginably over the ages to finally achieve – is simply not negotiable. 

Ben White and the Guardian promoting BDS again

Ben White

On September 11th, the Guardian’s Science section published an article by Dr Steve Caplan – associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center – addressing the counter-productivity of boycotts against Israeli academics. 

The next day, and – rather bizarrely – in a sub-section entitled “controversies in science”, the Guardian published a riposte to Dr Caplan’s article by Ben White entitled “Why a boycott of Israeli academics is fully justified”. 

One would not, of course, have expected anything else, from either White himself or from the Guardian which, a decade ago – at the height of the second Intifada – was the first newspaper to publish a letter openly calling for academic boycott of Israel. 

Much of White’s ‘argument’ seems to concentrate upon the claim that Israeli academics do not do enough, in his view, to protest ‘the occupation’. My fellow tax-payers footing the bill for the salaries of Israeli academics hired to teach and research are probably quite relieved to hear that the majority of them are concentrating on doing their jobs rather than outsourcing their skills to a campaign of delegitimisation. 

Towards the end of his polemic, White turns to promoting PACBI – co-founded by Qatar-born, Egypt-raised, US-educated Tel Aviv University doctoral student Omar Barghouti. 

“Finally, it is revealing that Caplan also omits to mention that it is occupied and colonised Palestinians who are asking for a boycott as one tactic in a campaign for basic rights.

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel was launched in 2004, and helped to start the BDS campaign the year after. PACBI urges a boycott to be applied in ways such as refraining from “collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions”. It is nothing to do with, as Caplan incorrectly claims, “excluding someone because of his or her government’s views”.”

Of course White does not tell his readers how many Palestinians the unelected PACBI represents with its call for boycott, because he cannot – but one somehow doubts that the 80,000 Palestinians from Areas A & B (and their dependents) who already work in Israel, or any of those hoping to secure one of the 5,000 new work permits just announced, could be counted among its supporters. 

Additionally, the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians (and their loved ones) treated every year in Israeli hospitals, along with the thousands of Palestinian doctors who attend conferences and/or intern in Israel might not be enthusiastic about the idea of Israeli academics from the medical world being cut off from their peers around the globe. 

And of course ordinary Palestinians have long voted with their feet on the boycott issue by shopping and working at Israeli businesses such as the Rami Levy supermarket chain: recently the target of angry statements from the BDS crowd. 

“Owner Rami Levy admits that there is a lot of ideology involved in the supermarket. “We have three stores in Judea and Samaria,” he said, “and Palestinians and Jews work together in them. If I can contribute to Jews and Arabs being able to live here together, all the better.” “

Co-existence in the Rami Levy supermarket in Shaar Binyamin (Photo: Atta Awisat)

Ben White and PACBI are among the fossilised minority who oppose co-existence and normalization in the Middle East. In fact, in 2010 PACBI produced a document rejecting any kind of normalization with Israelis, which it defines as follows:

““participating in any project, initiative or activity whether locally or internationally, that is designed to bring together-whether directly or indirectly- Palestinian and/or Arab youth with Israelis (whether individuals or institutions) and is not explicitly designed to resist or expose the occupation and all forms of discrimination and oppression inflicted upon the Palestinian people.”” 

PACBI’s outright rejection of bridge-building between Israelis and Palestinians is of course not surprising when one considers that its BDS campaign is merely a tactic used to try to achieve a bigger goal

“PACBI leads the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel, but of course its real aim is not merely to persuade musicians to refuse to appear in Tel Aviv or to encourage people not to buy Israeli goods.  The bottom line of all the PACBI rhetoric is that with its uncompromising demand for the ‘right of return’ for Palestinian refugees to places west of the ‘green line’, it aspires to eliminate Israel as the Jewish state in precisely the same manner as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad do.  Members of PACBI, including the suited academics at Birzeit, may not be building bombs, firing rockets or strapping on suicide belts, but their ultimate aims are identical to those who do.”

But not only is the Ben White/PACBI –driven BDS campaign of incitement detrimental to the hope of peace in the Middle East; it is also counterproductive to the current intense campaign by the British government to inject some vitality into its country’s flailing, recession-hit economy by seeking joint R&D projects with Israeli universities and companies. 

Speaking at Bar Ilan University in January of this year, FCO Minister Alistair Burt said:

“We need Israel’s acumen and intelligence; its ability to work at the highest intellectual and technological level to help the world solve its problems, from the economy to climate and environmental change – and its readiness to use its gifts in higher education and intellectual property to help the world progress. Everyone knows that Israeli R&D is world-beating. Israeli inventions are helping to drive the global economy. (…)

One key development in 2011 was the start of a partnership between Britain and Israel in tech.    We believe it is a partnership that could help both sides – the amazing quality of Israeli R&D can help British growth..”

The Minister also urged Israeli students to consider studying in the UK, and of course such students do have the potential to provide valuable income to cash-strapped British universities. But with Ben White-endorsed initiatives such as the upcoming UK Student Palestine Conference being far from infrequent events in British institutions of higher education, and Israeli students currently being courted intensely by many other countries too, it is obvious that in this field too, Ben White and the BDS campaigners are doing little to help Britain’s image. 

That self-focused extremists such as Ben White and PACBI care almost as little for the UK economy as they do for the Palestinian people should come as no surprise. That the Guardian continues to provide a willing platform to such unrepresentative fringe voices indicates that it too is part of the problem called BDS which seeks to stall co-operation, collaboration and peaceful co-existence – not only in the Middle East. 

Antony Loewenstein’s tasteless Holocaust quip: ‘Six Million Should Die.’

Cross posted by Richard Millett

Antony Lowenstein

Antony Loewenstein is an Australian anti-Israel activist who describes himself as “a non-practising atheist Jew”. He has just co-written a book with Ahmed Moor called After Zionism.

Here’s the blurb for the book:

After Zionism brings together some of the world’s leading thinkers on the Middle East question to dissect the century-long conflict between Zionism and the Palestinians, and to explore possible forms of a one-state solution. Time has run out for the two-state solution because of the unending and permanent Jewish colonisation of Palestinian land. Although deep mistrust exists on both sides of the conflict, growing numbers of Palestinians and Israelis, Jews and Arabs are working together to forge a different, unified future. Progressive and realist ideas are at last gaining a foothold in the discourse, while those influenced by the colonial era have been discredited or abandoned. Whatever the political solution may be, Palestinian and Israeli lives are intertwined, enmeshed, irrevocably.This daring and timely collection includes essays by Omar Barghouti, Diana Buttu, Jonathan Cook, Joseph Dana, Jeremiah Haber, Jeff Halper, Ghada Karmi, Saree Makdisi, John Mearsheimer, Ilan Pappe, Sara Roy and Phil Weiss.

Last night Loewenstein and Moor spoke at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London to promote the book.

Loewenstein told the audience of about 150 that “Zionism cannot be reformed, reframed or changed. Zionism actually is the issue here. Although it is probably very hard to imagine in 2012 the idea of a Middle East country called Israel that’s not a Zionist state, the truth is that it was impossible equally to imagine a South African country that wasn’t wracked with apartheid.”

Both Loewenstein and Moor are big supporters of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. Moor was, incidentally, born in Gaza and is now at Havard doing a Master’s in Public Policy.

Loewenstein said that getting bands and musicians not to go to Israel to perform is “a tool, not an endgame”. It was, he said, a way of telling Israel that “if you choose to behave in this way you’ll not be treated as a normal state.”
Moor said he sees BDS as a way of empowering Palestinians in the diaspora.

Loewenstein described the Israel Lobby in the UK as “very powerful” while Moor said he thinks that American Jews are turning away from Israel, preferring what happens in Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm to what is happening in Jerusalem. He said he thinks Israel is not an important part of their lives anymore.

He mentioned one of his Harvard colleagues who returned from a Birthright tour of Israel who wrote a scathing piece about how Birthright was intended to mislead and how it alienated her further from Israel.

It was all the usual standard anti-Israel rhetoric.

But, during the Q&A Jonathan Hoffman asked Loewenstein how many people Loewenstein thinks should die for this one-state solution, that Loewenstein wants so much, to come into existence. The idea being that Israelis are not going to vote themselves out of existence, so presumably such a state could come about only by force involving more bloodshed.

You can hear the audio below. Loewenstein isn’t answering the question so he is pressed further by Hoffman as to how many Loewenstein thinks should die. At 2 mins. 35 you can hear Frank Barat, the Chairman, say “200,000″ (here is more on Barat) but at 2 mins. 45 you can hear Loewenstein say “Six million. That’s my answer. Write that down.”

What sort of individual comes out with such an answer? Mocking the Holocaust seems to be becoming de rigeuer within anti-Israel activism. Here is someone calling herself Jane Green back in October last year.

Maybe “six million” was randomly plucked out of thin air by Loewenstein. That seems doubtful. Hopefully, he will be pressed further on what made him say such a cruel thing when he returns home to Sydney, Australia. The irony is that you can hear Loewenstein demand that Hoffman be more respectful.

Here’s the audio. It includes Ahmed Moor’s answer to Hoffman in which Moor demands Jews gives up their “privileges” in Israel. At least Moor had the courtesy to seem slightly ashamed of Loewenstein’s answer:

Antony Loewenstein audio – “Six million should die”

Here is Jonathan Hoffman’s take on last night: How many have to die to achieve ‘One State’?

Antisemitism with a literary glow: Alice Walker’s ugly caricature of Israeli Jews

Written by Hadar Sela and Adam Levick

“Jesus, a Palestinian – is still being crucified.” (Alice Walker’s blog, per CAMERA)

“[Israeli] settlers are the [Ku Klux] Klan” (Alice Walker, during interview with Jesse Rosenfeld.)

“I think Israel is the greatest terrorist in that part of the world. And I think in general, the United States and Israel are great terrorist organizations themselves.”  (Alice Walker, Foreign Policy, in June, 2011.)

“I feel that the Israel that many Jews dreamed of having – that one is gone. That’s demolished. I think it’s time for people to accept that. Because what you have now is something that is so frightening. Israel is as frightening to many of us as Germany used to be.” (Alice Walker: Why I’m joining the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza, Guardian, June 25, 2011).”

The literary foot-stomping  which is Alice Walker’s recent refusal to permit her book ‘The Colour Purple’ to be translated into Hebrew – bizarre as it is – can hardly have come as much of a surprise to anyone familiar with the writer’s history of anti-Israel activism. Neither does the Guardian’s decision to showcase extensive sections of Walker’s letter of refusal to the would-be publisher exactly come as a shock.

Walker is a long-standing activist in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), and indeed allowed her letter to the Israeli publisher which requested permission to translate the book to be posted on the website of PACBI – the Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel – which leads and sets the tone for the BDS campaign.

PACBI does not aspire to a two-state solution – it promotes the ‘return’ of millions of descendants of Palestinian refugees, thereby rejecting the existence of Israel within any borders. PACBI opposes ‘normalisation’ and has produced a document which defines that term as:

“participating in any project, initiative or activity whether locally or internationally, that is designed to bring together-whether directly or indirectly Palestinian and/or Arab youth with Israelis (whether individuals or institutions) and is not explicitly designed to resist or expose the occupation and all forms of discrimination and oppression inflicted upon the Palestinian people.”

PACBI founding member and steering committee member Omar Barghouti believes (mistakenly) that:

“International law does give people under occupation the right to resist in any way, including armed resistance”.

In other words, Alice Walker chose to make her statement on the platform of an organization which aspires, by any means, to oppose co-existence in the Middle East and bring about an end to the Jewish state.

That too should not be surprising, for another of Alice Walker’s pet hobbies is supporting an additional Palestinian organization which opposes dialogue, seeks to bring about the end of Israel and openly calls for the murder of Jews – Hamas.

In 2011 Walker joined the (failed) flotilla to Gaza, engaging in self-promotion on the pages of the Guardian (where else?) along the way. Walker’s flowery prose was full of buzz-words such as ‘justice’ and ‘respect’, but any concern for the people of Israel’s south – battered and traumatized for over a decade by the terror organizations involved in organizing that flotilla – was remarkably absent, as Howard Jacobson pointed out to her at the time.

And then of course there is Alice Walker’s involvement in that self-appointed kangaroo court-cum-echo chamber known as the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, which flits from venue to venue in order to reach the foregone conclusion of Israeli’s immutable guilt based on carefully pre-selected ‘evidence’.

Walker claims that her decision not to allow her book to be translated into Hebrew is part of her ongoing attempt to “rid humanity of its self-destructive habit of dehumanizing whole populations”, yet it has obviously never occurred to her that she is supremely guilty of that fault herself.

A woman who would liken Israelis who live on the “wrong” side of the green line” to the KKK is an unserious political poser – an extremist engaged in incendiary, hateful, and dehumanizing rhetoric about hundreds of thousands of Jews.

A once  celebrated literary figure who holds steady with the sophomoric belief that the United States and Israel are the “great terrorist organizations” of our time is someone who has become a 60’s political anachronism: an embarrassment to those who may have succumbed to the temptation of imputing to Walker true wisdom by virtue of her literary achievements.

A person who excuses terror and murder by claiming that “[t]his is David and Goliath, but Goliath is not the Palestinians. They are David. They are the ones with the slingshot. They are the ones with the rocks and relatively not-so-powerful rockets. Whereas the Israelis have these incredibly damaging missiles and rockets” is severely lacking in even basic human empathy.

Much of Walker’s self-allocated expertise and supreme authority on the subjects of terrorism, discrimination and apartheid is, by her own account, based upon her experiences growing up in the south of the United States.

But by choosing to support a plethora of organisations which seek to deny Jews the right to self-determination like any other nation in the world and in promoting her own radical-chic credentials by deeming a language – and the nation which speaks it – beyond the pale, Walker shows herself to be no better than the Deep South racists of her youth.

Walker, schooled in the art of compassion, liberalism (and the theology of liberation) evidently fails to note the succor she is providing for the most illiberal, reactionary Islamist movements: forces of antisemitic intolerance which resemble – indeed, wildly exceed – the fervor of hardcore racism arduously defended during the 1950s and 1960s in places like Jackson, Mississippi and Birmingham, Alabama.

In an essay which Walker wrote in 2009, she described giving a gift to a Palestinian woman:

“I gave her a gift I had brought, and she thanked me. Looking into my eyes she said: May God Protect You From the Jews. When the young Palestinian interpreter told me what she’d said, I responded: It’s too late, I already married one.” [emphasis added]

It may be too later for her, but Alice Walker seems intent on at least protecting others from the perfidy of the Jewish people.

Video: BDS leader Omar Barghouti making blatantly racist remark

This is cross posted by Zach at Huffington Post Monitor.

Gilad Atzmon found this video of Omar Barghouti (who you probably know from his boycott work) putting his foot squarely in his mouth:

The video is only a minute long but there is oh so much information packed into it. For example Barghouti declares that he won’t be lectured on violence by a “white person” why? Because “the white race is the most violent in history of mankind.” Isn’t that special.

Atzmon found the video from Deliberation, which is a left-wing site. Deliberation had some uncomfortable questions as well:

“But there is also another acute question that deserves our immediate attention. Why exactly the ‘socialist’ crowd in Chicago is so exited by Barghouti’s Racist remark? Is it possible that our so-called ‘progressive’ panthers have changed their spots, are they now in favour if [sic] racism? 

“I guess that Ben White, another spokesman for the BDS movement, may have an answer to offer. In a recent New Statesman article he foolishly admitted that that BDS “is a strategy, not a principle.” 

“I guess that this is indeed very concerning about the BDS . It is not principled at all. A BDS prominent leader happens to spread racist remarks while enrolling to a ‘Zionist’ academic institute which he expects us to boycott. Another BDS prominent spokesman admits that the BDS is “not principled”. Meanwhile in the UK BDS attempts to destroy Israeli Habima theatre but does nothing to promote a Palestinian theatre from Ramallah. As the BDS buying itself a name of a dedicated book burning institution, we learn that trade between Israel and Britain grew last year by 34%. 

“If BDS is an important humanitarian call and, we in Deliberation believe it is, it better be managed and represented by people who are slightly more principled and certainly more clever and astute.

I would say of course that BDS has been racist from it’s very beginning. This latest admission by Barghouti only helps to prove it.

The stylish appeal of BDS movement’s tireless campaign to erode the Jewish state’s legitimacy

A guest post by Gidon Ben-Zvi

Those who seek to destroy Israel by a thousand cuts scored a much publicized victory when The Co-operative Group, the UK’s fifth largest food retailer, announced (in late April) that it would “no longer engage with any supplier of produce known to be sourcing from the Israeli settlements”.

A major battle was won in the just war to free the Palestinian people, or so goes the self-congratulatory bloviating of a small but vociferous clan of activists.

Better still, this hard-fought victory of right over might was achieved without a single shot being fired. Non-violent protest at its most effective, no?

Let’s put to rest the canard that the BDS Israel campaign is in any way non-violent. Prominent British lawyer Anthony Julius, in his ‘Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England’, describes the inherently violent nature of boycott campaigns:

“The boycotted person is pushed away by the general horror and common hate…It is a denial amongst other things, of the boycotted person’s freedom of expression….To limit or deny self-expression is thus an attack at the root of what it is to be human.”

Long before Jordan’s West Bank became Israeli-occupied Palestine, there was the Arab economic boycott of Israel, one component of a decades-long effort to eviscerate the Jewish state. And today, the song remains the same, with the BDS Israel movement not merely advocating policy change, but actively campaigning to purge Israel, both within and without the ‘Green Line’, of every last vestige of Jewish character and sovereignty.

BDS Israel is a soft war that perverts the sincere, commendable desire of students, artists and others for social justice into a movement that espouses a simplistic, distorted view of the Middle East in general and Israel in particular. By equating democratic Israel with Apartheid South Africa, BDS Israel proponents seek to fill a yawning chasm of ignorance with their own corrosive biases regarding Israel.

Once a foundation of fiction is laid, it becomes easy to build the case for isolating Israel by conjuring up the specters of discrimination, oppression and colonialism from the dark annals of human history. The ‘Never Again’ battle cry is thus hurled like a boomerang back at the most persecuted people in history. And voila, the dismantling of the Jewish State becomes as noble an aim as was that of dismantling Apartheid South Africa.

These people of good conscience who seek to do nothing more than end Israeli repression and Israeli war crimes are worthy of further examination. According to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, many of the non government organizations that are spearheading the effort to end Israel’s colonization of Palestinian land are ‘either fictional, non-existent, and even, in some cases, front-organizations for Hamas and other terror groups.’

Had The Co-operative Group been better informed, it may have sought to dole out its misguided brand of social justice at such perennial human rights violators as Sudan, Syria, Iran, or Zimbabwe.

If The Co-operative Group had the support of Palestinian rights in mind, it may have thought twice before targeting the Middle East’s only true democracy, undergirded by a robust freedom of the press and an active, independent judiciary that helps ensure the equality of all Israel’s citizens – Jew, Muslim and Christian.

If the Co-operative Group wants to fix the Middle East, it can start with the tyrannical regime in Hamas-ruled Gaza. And yet the Co-operative Group chose to single out Israel. What drives the normally rational to such distraction when Israelis introduced into the conversation?

BDS Israel was conceived at the 2001 Durban Conference on Racism, where Israel was singled as the only nation earth that warranted the imposition of boycotts, divestment and sanctions.

Next, such Palestinian luminaries as Omar Barghoutiwho studies at Tel Aviv University, stepped in to act as midwives, bringing BDS Israel into existence. Barghouti has openly and repeatedly called for a one state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In other words, this founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) supports the destruction of Israel.

Finally, BDS Israel was nurtured and grew loud and fat thanks to the round-the-clock care of a cabal of guilt-stricken Western academics. Pacifist and post-modernist in their view of the world, these leading intellectual lights look back in shame at the behavior of the colonists towards the colonized. Decades later, this guilt manifests itself by way of sympathy for oppressed nations demanding self-determination.

Yet, for all of BDS Israel’s sound and fury, the movement’s leaders have precious little to point to by way of concrete accomplishments, which in itself points to a fetishizing of style over substance, of political grandstanding over principled protest.

To date, Israeli foreign exports are soaring and the Tel Aviv Stock exchange has more than doubled in the last two years. As such, the BDS movement has had no discernible impact on the Israeli economy.

Still, the guerilla chic appeal of BDS Israel all but ensures that a persistent, overblown coverage of this rather inane movement will continue well into the future. 

Apparently, movements for social justice only become fashionable if they are loudly anti-Western, superficially pro-democratic yet remarkably mute when it comes to the vast majority of crimes against humanity inflicted by the once colonized against their own people.

Note to Philly BDS Activists: You will fail.

Opponents of the Jewish state’s existence – such as CiF contributors Ali Abunimah, Tel Aviv University student Omar Barghouti, and Ahmed Moor – will be converging on my native city of Philadelphia (at the University of Pennsylvania) on February 4th and 5th for a BDS Conference.

As our friend and ally Jon, of the anti-BDS blog, Divest This!, put it:

“An international lineup of BDS advocates will meet, greet and try to breathe life in a ‘movement’ that has yet to achieve a single major victory after more than a decade of effort.”

Divest This! has even created a unique page to combat the Philly event, titled “PennBDS-Oy!”

Since I know a few of the local Philly anti-Zionist Jews who will likely participate in the conference on how best to isolate my nation, and, in the off-chance they read this post, here’s some advice.

As always, you will fail miserably at your efforts.

Not only does Philly have an especially well-organized pro-Israel community, which includes college Zionist activists, my friend Lori Lowenthal Marcus and her group Z Street, and my former colleagues at the local office of the Anti-Defamation League, but, more broadly, Israel, my new country, has one weapon which we’ll continue to deploy that you have no answer to: Our success.

In addition to our undeniable regional advantage in every conceivable democratic category, we continue to achieve economically, academically and socially to a degree  remarkably disproportionate to our size.

Though our right to exist as a Jewish state is axiomatic and unreserved – and we need not demonstrate our utility to gain the privilege granted to all other nations unconditionally – our achievements stand as a testament to what you’re up against when you engage in cognitive warfare against us.

Israel has the 2nd highest ratio of university degrees in the world, produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation by a large margin, has the largest number of startup companies than any other country except the U.S., and has the largest number (per capita) of biotech companies.  

What we may lack in natural resources we more than make up for in grit, determination, and hard work.

Further, unlike our Arab neighbors, our liberal values are consistently demonstrated by our free and fair elections, our independent judiciary, our democratic legislature (which even grants rights to political parties opposed to our existence), our free and feisty press, and the rights afforded to women, religious minorities, and the LGBT community.   

My nation – the first sovereign Jewish state in 2000 years – is a proud, robust, dynamic, and thriving pluralistic democratic Jewish state, and there is little you can do to thwart our will to survive.

Finally, here’s a small reminder of what a small group of thoughtful, committed supporters of the Jewish state can do in the face of a coordinated anti-Zionist campaign: 

Am Y’srael Chai! (The Jewish nation lives).

The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland reconciles with the anti-Zionist left

The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland has evidently fully recovered from his jarring experience with vicious anti-Zionists at a debate on BDS in London with participants (including Omar Barghouti) who seek the end of the Jewish state.

According to The JC’s report on the debate, Freedland’s attempts to refute accusations that Israel is an “apartheid” state and that, therefore, BDS was a moral imperative were both repeatedly shouted down by pro-Palestinian activists, which led an evidently shaken Freedland to tell the audience:

“Tonight has been hugely revealing. I thought my disagreement with the boycott movement was because I want to see the end of occupation and you want to see the end of occupation and it was an argument about tactics.

“What has come through loud and clear is your motivation is not actually just the end of occupation but it’s with Israel itself – you have a fundamental problem with it.”

Just how revealing was Freedland’s jarring experience with rabid anti-Zionists? Well, not so jarring that he’s in any more predisposed to take on anti-Zionist such as Joseph Dana.

Joseph Dana, an American-Israeli, is a vocal BDS activist and proponent of the one-state solution, that is, the end of the Jewish state – a position which has endeared him to such vicious anti-Zionists as Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss. (In fact, Dana is a judge at something at Mondoweiss called the Mondo Awards – no doubt an award in great anti-Zionist achievements – a panel which includes Omar Barghouti)

Dana once wrote, “Why anyone, Jew or Arab, would want to see this [Israeli] state continue in its present form is really beyond comprehension.” 

And, he has even echoed the vile logic of CiF’s Slavoj Zizek that modern Zionists have come to resemble old style fascists, in an essay published at the viciously anti-Israel site, DesertPeace.

Recently, Jonathan Freedland Tweeted the following to his friend Joseph Dana (who Tweets under “ibnezra”)

The article Freedland links to, in Ha’aretz, reports on a group of settlers who vandalized an Israeli Army base as part of a “price tag” for the IDF’s recent demolishing of an outpost in Migron.  While the destructive actions of the settlers are of course indefensible, the shallow implication of Freedland’s Tweet encouraged me to respond in kind.

My reply

Beyond the Tweet itself (which was, interestingly, re-Tweeted by Seumas Milne), it’s dispiriting to say the least that Freedland has apparently learned nothing from his encounter with the anti-Zionist crowd in London.

In an essay about his experiences at the debate, published at the Zionist Left site, Engage, Freedland wrote the following:

“What [the debate] confirmed out loud was that the hard core of boycott campaigners do not merely object to the post-1967 occupation- even if that dominates their public rhetoric – but to Israel as Israel.”

Speakers from the floor repeatedly returned to the alleged ills of pre-1967 Israel and of Zionism itself. Indeed, Naomi Foyle, the activist who had acted as a “volunteer consultant” to the South Bank in organising the debate, later blogged a concise response to my claim that the boycott campaign was anti-Israel rather than anti-occupation: “Damn right.”

By finding common cause with one-state solution proponents who vilify Israel and her supporters at every opportunity, such as Joseph Dana, it’s clear Freedland – like many who maintain soft support for Zionism yet don’t want to get their hands dirty in the fight – is not willing to sacrifice alienating those in his progressive political circles for the sake of Israel’s survival.

While I’m a big believer in the idea of “Big Tent Zionism”, the key word in that phrase is, of course, “Zionism”.

An open letter to Jonathan Freedland

Dear Jonathan:

We are writing to you about the BDS debate at South Bank Centre in London, on the 10th July.  It appears that you had a rude awakening to the depth of mindless opposition to the very existence of Israel which can, if allowed, undermine any reasoned discussion in such a milieu. 

We have a recording of the debate in which this is evident, particularly where Carol Gould’s reference to the shelling of southern Israel from Gaza is met with laughter.  We also took note of your closing speech. We are, frankly, amazed that you realise apparently only now that the BDS campaign is driven by a very vociferous minority whose difficulty is with the existence of Israel itself rather than with the betterment of relations and a state for Palestinians.

We confess to being perplexed by your shock.  Do you not read CiF in the Guardian Online?  It is the leading driver of anti-Israel discourse in the media in terms of its articles (and often barely concealed antisemitic discourse below the line too).   It is the arch-proponent of Big Lies about the motives of Israel and Israelis, which, by their very nature, quickly take on lives of their own and become spurious truths.  Worst of all it rarely allows counter argument from the people whose lives are most affected by such untruths or  those who want to refute them.  Instead it gives column inches to vilification of the Jewish state and space to its enemies to further pervert the discourse.  The behaviour of some of the BDS supporters in the audience at the debate and their lack of restraint shows that they feel free to catcall and try to outshout pro-Israel speakers with impunity, due in a large part to the influence on the media of the Guardian.

Your major mistake was to assume that your opponents would be as open-minded as you were and that they would be able to stand outside their agendas and debate dispassionately, one step removed, as it were, from the emotions these issues invariably evoke.  You were mistaken also, as you found out, to assume that the pro-BDS arguments were stand-alone and discrete and had nothing to do with the existence of Israel per se. 

You had no personal axe to grind although your views were clear.  Although you came prepared for an intellectual debate, as did Carol Gould, neither the audience nor your two opponents were prepared to hear you fully.  They had already made up their minds and nothing was going to sway them!  

Your reasoned argument was met with jeering from some in the audience.  For Barghouti (who accuses Israel of being an apartheid state while quite freely studying for a PhD at Tel Aviv University) and the BDS movement supporters in the audience who voted in favour of the boycott motion, this was yet another publicity exercise, an opportunity to vilify Israel and to advance the BDS (and delegitimization) movement.

Perhaps you were naïve enough to believe that a well-constructed argument, or even a series of them, would be enough to convince the likes of Barghouti and his fellow-travellers that BDS is misguided, is not in the best interests of Palestinian people, and is certainly not a viable course by which to achieve Palestinian statehood. 

But the opposition’s poisonous agenda outflanked and bested you.  The Jewish Chronicle article says that you were gloomy and “visibly shaken” about the success of the pro-boycotters.  If that is true, then we hope you will forgive us for being heartily glad of it. We hope that what must have been the considerable discomfort of that experience changes your perspective permanently, that its effects stay with you and are translated by you into appropriate action:

For example, what might you write to convince the Israeli public (the most decisive factor in any peace settlement) that there is a chance for peace with the Barghoutis of this world, given that he had no compunction about lying in the debate about what he called the “genocidal tendencies” having overtaken Israeli society? What could you do, as a well-known Guardian columnist, to undermine the mindless Israel-hatred which all too often spills into antisemitism on CiF?  

You see, the “pudding” you cooked, so to speak, when you shared your realisation that the BDS movement has a problem with the very existence of Israel, looks appetising, given your self-confessed realisation that BDS supporters’ agenda will not stop at boycott, divestment and sanctions, even if they were to result in a Palestinian state.  That you named the BDS agenda for what it is shows promise but much will depend on how your “pudding” actually tastes, and we shall know that by your actions in future.

My thanks to PetertheHungarian for his contribution to this article.

Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland is mugged by the reality of BDS movement’s malevolence

There are a couple notes of interest about The JC’s report on the debate on an Israel boycott motion proposed at the London Literature Festival at the Southbank Centre on Sunday, whose participants included Omar Barghouti, the most passionate defender of BDS, and opponent of Israel’s very existence – who also just happens to be a Tel Aviv University doctoral student – and Guardian contributor, Jonathan Freedland.

(Barghouti was joined by Seni Seneviratne, a British-Sri Lankan poet who is a member of British Writers in Support of Palestine, in backing the motion, and Freedland was joined by American writer Carol Gould, in opposing the pro-BDS motion.)

First, though not surprising to those of us familiar with Barghouti, it’s important to continue noting that this prolific pro-BDS activist’s accusations against Israel are obviously not constrained by the limits imposed on those who take facts, reason, and moral decency seriously.

As such, Barghouti, during the course of the debate, employed rhetoric only used by those who not only oppose Israeli policy, but see the state as some sort of cosmic evil, in which no invective hurled at the Jewish state is considered too extreme or over-the-top, arguing that a culture of “impunity, racism and genocidal tendencies has overtaken Israeli society”. [emphasis mine]

No, not only was the simply odious charge that Israel possesses “genocidal tendencies” not offensive to the crowd, but , according to The JC, Freedland’s and Gould’s attempts to refute accusations that Israel is an “apartheid” state and that, therefore, BDS was a moral imperative were both repeatedly shouted down by pro-Palestinian activists, which led an evidently shaken Freedland to tell the audience:

“Tonight has been hugely revealing. I thought my disagreement with the boycott movement was because I want to see the end of occupation and you want to see the end of occupation and it was an argument about tactics.

“What has come through loud and clear is your motivation is not actually just the end of occupation but it’s with Israel itself – you have a fundamental problem with it.”

Jonathan Freedland, it seems, like many leftist Zionist critics of Israel, was mugged by the reality of a BDS movement which is simply venomous – one which seeks nothing less than the end of the “Zionist entity.”

Hopefully, Freedland - who wrote an essay about anti-Semitism in the aftermath of the John Galliano row which at least demonstrated that, unlike most of his Guardian colleagues, he takes the threat posed by Jew hatred seriously – will better understand the line where mere anti-Zionism becomes clear anti-Semitism, and finally realize the utter futility in “debating” those who possess such blind malevolence towards the Jewish state that nothing less than her destruction will do.

Such political extremism (masquerading as progressive thought) can not be cajoled or reasoned with.

Their hate and intolerance must be aggressively (and unapologetically) exposed, named, and shamed.

Perhaps Mr. Freedland can begin by imparting this wisdom to his colleagues at the Guardian. 

(Those who wish to fight boycott efforts by getting involved in campaigns to actively BUY Israeli goods, please see this site)

How low will she go? Guardian contributor Mya Guarnieri uses Nazi analogy in calling for the end of Israel

Guardian contributor Mya Guarnieri’s hatred towards Israel seems to have no boundaries, and is not informed by even the most rudimentary standards of decency or proportion.

Guarnieri, whose liberal, artistic sensibilities are somehow unburdened by writing for the reactionary Islamist mouthpiece, al-Jazeera, penned a piece in favor of BDS against Israel, which again advocated for the end of the Jewish state, and likened those who are “resisting” Israel as morally comparable to those who resisted Nazi Germany.

In a piece titled “Boycotting Israel from within“, which could have been written by the master of BDS, Omar Barghouti, himself, Guarnieri reveals that her previously “naive” boycott of merely those Israeli goods produced across the green line has given way to a much bolder support for the complete boycott of all Israeli goods and a support for the Palestinian “Right of Return” – which Guarnieri openly acknowledges would lead tot her desired outcome, the end of Israel as a Jewish state.

Guarnieri’s essay conjures a dark, mythical Israel, which is – quoting Jonathan Spyer’s characterization of this fantastical place, which bears no resemblance to the nation as she really is – “a place of uninterrupted darkness and horror, in which every human interaction is ugly, crude, racist, brutal.”

Indeed, Guarnieri dutifully finds an Israeli, Leehee Rothschild (an active BDS proponent who signed the letter published in the Guardian, in February, in opposition to Ian McEwan’s decision to accept the Jerusalem Prize) to legitimize her views, who decries Israel as a society which is:

“militant…violent…[where] people are raised to be deeply racist…Everything is targeted at supporting [Jewish] privilege as the masters of the land. Supporting BDS means renouncing my privileges in this land and insisting on equality for all.”

Guarnieri, arguing for the demise of the very state which arduously protects her right to do, yet in a manner suggesting that she’s engaging in a true act of heroism, insidiously suggests a parallel between BDS proponents and those who resisted history’s most notorious and odious regime, by quoting an Israeli named Ronnie Barkan, a member of “Anarchists Against the Wall” (a group which refers to the IDF as a “terrorist organization”) thusly:

“My grandmother who went to Auschwitz tells me, ‘You can think whatever you want but don’t speak up about your politics because it’s not nice,’ I tell her, ‘You know who didn’t speak up 70 years ago…I think that the main lesson to be learned from the Holocaust is ‘never again to anybody’ not ‘never again to the Jews.'”

That Mya Guarnieri imagines herself a latter-day Hannah Senesh speaks volumes about the political pathologies, and delusions of grandeur, which informs much of the ideology of the anti-Zionist left.

That the Guardian apparently still considers her commentary on Israel – a state whose destruction she brazenly continues to advocate for – within the boundaries of acceptable liberal opinion speaks volumes on the continuing degradation of the Guardian Left.