The campaign for ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ (BDS) against the Israeli government gains ground every day while defenders of the Palestinian Occupation seem to be able to do no more that trot out the same tired charges of anti-Semitism against its proponents!
As George Bisharat points out in the article below, the charge of anti-Semitism is completely without substance. Indeed there has been a tragic history of persecution of Jewish people for which all of us Europeans rightly feel a sense of shame. Even so, for Zionist politicians to manipulate this shame to justify the persecution of Palestinian people is reprehensible, and it’s a tactic that is becoming increasingly transparent to the Western public.
Perhaps the most significant thing about Bisharat’s article is that it appeared in the Chicago Tribune. Indeed the BDS is going mainstream!
Applause for the academic boycott of Israel
By George Bisharat
Israel’s reflexive defenders have reverted to their customary blunt cudgel: the charge that critics of Israeli policies are anti-Semitic. Their recent target was the 5,000-member American Studies Association, which voted in December to boycott Israeli academic institutions.
The ASA vote mirrors an international movement promoting comprehensive boycotts, sanctions and divestment against Israel to compel its respect for Palestinian equal rights. The nonviolent movement was initiated in 2005 by more than 170 Palestinian civil society organizations one year after the International Court of Justice’s judgment that Israel’s separation barrier violates international law and should be dismantled. The movement is rapidly gaining momentum — last week, actress Scarlett Johansson scrambled to defend her relationship with SodaStream International Ltd, based in the illegal Israeli Maale Adumim settlement outside Jerusalem, and thus a target of boycotters.
The Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer inveighed against the ASA: “To apply to the state of the Jews a double standard that you apply to none other, to judge one people in a way you judge no other, to single out that one people for condemnation and isolation — is to engage in a gross act of discrimination. And discrimination against Jews has a name. It’s called anti-Semitism.”
This is flat out nonsense.
There has never been a “worst first” rule for boycotts. Activists urging divestment from apartheid South Africa were not racist because they failed to simultaneously condemn the demonstrably worse Cambodian dictator Pol Pot. Nor were U.S. civil rights protesters required to inventory the world and only protest if our nation exceeded the abuses of others. Boycotts are justified whenever they are necessary and promise results.
There are sound reasons that U.S. citizens should respond to the Palestinians’ appeal for support: Our country is Israel’s principal — and often sole — defender in the international arena. Our diplomats have vetoed more than 40 U.N. Security Council resolutions critical of Israeli practices, including illegal settlement of the West Bank. Former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, upon leaving office, described shielding Israel as a “huge part” of her work.
Is there a double standard here? Perhaps. Consider Iran, sanctioned up, down, and sideways, by the U.N., and virtually every level of government in the U.S., down to Beverly Hills, Calif., for possibly aspiring to have the nuclear arms that Israel already has by the score. Or Iraq, which occupied Kuwait in 1990, and upon its refusal to withdraw, was forcibly ejected by a broad international coalition of forces within seven months.
Allegations of Israel’s human rights violations, including torture, home demolitions, extrajudicial killings, detentions without trial, excessive force, use of human shields, and deliberate attacks on civilian persons and facilities, have been amply documented by respected human rights groups and our own State Department. More than 50 Israeli laws either privilege Jews or discriminate against Palestinians, according to Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.
U.S. enabling of Israel, particularly in its colonial expansion into the West Bank, has voided the two-state option and fostered a single functioning state there in which only Jews enjoy relative security, prosperity, and full political rights, while Palestinians suffer gradations of oppression. It is both appropriate and necessary that U.S. citizens vocally oppose discriminatory Israeli practices and our government’s complicity in them.
Discriminatory systems are inherently unstable, as the oppressed will continue struggling for equal rights, even against daunting odds. ASA members, who study, among other topics, American slavery and its demise, are acutely aware of such dynamics. Their entry to this vital discussion is therefore to be applauded — and emulated by others.
George Bisharat, a professor at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law, writes frequently on the Middle East.
This is an excellent essay from my friend, Paul Larudee.
What does the Palestinian struggle have to do with Anti-Semitism? What indeed?! Cries of ‘anti-Semitism’, like references to the Holocaust, only function to distract us from the real issues.
The Palestine Liberation Movement is not about Anti-Semitism
by Paul Larudee / May 23rd, 2013
Without regard to the validity of Joseph Massad’s exposition of the historical and dialectic relationship between Zionism and anti-Semitism, why is Massad trying to justify the Palestine liberation movement on the basis that it is a battle against anti-Semitism? Of course, Massad is by no means the only Palestinian to make Jewish issues and anti-Semitism central to the Palestinian struggle. Ali Abunimah has made something of a campaign of assuring the Jewish community that the Palestine liberation movement is free of anti-Semitism. In addition, several large Palestinian solidarity organizations and coalitions have anti-anti-Semitism as one of their core statements.
Since when are Palestinian rights and liberation about Jews, Jewish issues and anti-Semitism? Why are Palestinians allowing Jews and Jewish issues – including Zionism and anti-Semitism – to set the Palestinian agenda?
The term “Semite” was born of the assumption that all the languages of the world are the result of the sons of Noah – Shem, Ham and Japheth – going to different parts of the globe after the flood and creating different language groups: Semitic, Hamitic and Japhetic. The sons of Noah? Are we seriously entertaining such nonsense?
To make matters worse, this absurdity was extended to fictitious “races,” not just languages. “Anti-Semitic” therefore is descriptive of the Hamitic and Japhetic races turning on the descendents of Shem, the third brother. No one seriously speaks of Hamitic and Japhetic races. Is it not time to recognize the absurdity of the Semitic “race” as well?
Even more absurd is the attempt to use such mythological concepts to measure the virtue of the Palestinian cause. The Palestinian cause has nothing to do with Jews, Semites, anti-Semitism, God, Abraham, Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, Noah, Jacob, Ishmael, Shem, Ham and Japheth, whether you believe in them or not. It has nothing to do with the Holocaust, colonialism, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Crusaders, the Turks or the British.
It has everything to do with the expulsion of Palestinians from their land and with denial of their right to sovereignty, to self-determination and above all their Right to Return. It does not matter who expelled them. It is their land and they have the right to return. It does not matter who denies their existence. They have a right to return.
It does not even matter if they are nice people or despicable, whether they are racists or humanists, whether they are Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhist or Shinto, whether they are clean or dirty, educated or ignorant, rich or poor, democrats or monarchists. They have the right to return to their homes and to reclaim their country.
Their rights cannot be held hostage to the rights of others. If justice for Palestinians cannot be bought at the price of injustice for others, neither can justice for others be bought at the price of injustice to Palestinians. Justice may be indivisible, but we need not wait for justice to happen everywhere in order for it to happen in Palestine.
Palestinians cannot wait for CO2 levels to drop below 350 parts per million, nor for the population of blue whales to rise, nor for the persecution of Rohingyas to end in Myanmar, nor even for ethnic cleansing to end in Congo, nor for the European victims of World War II and their descendants to be made whole, nor for indigenous peoples everywhere to regain their rights and heritage.
Justice may be indivisible, but the restoration of justice anywhere raises the level of justice everywhere. The restoration of justice in Palestine benefits the entire world and gives hope to justice that is still struggling to restore itself in other places and to other peoples.
Anti-Semitism is no more relevant to Palestinian liberation than anti-Hamitism or Anti-Japhetism or any other attempt to gauge the worthiness of the Palestinian cause by its endorsement or rejection of someone else’s values. Please remove such irrelevance from the discussion of Palestinian rights.
Paul Larudee is one of the founders of the Free Gaza and Free Palestine Movements and an organizer in the International Solidarity Movement.
I am encouraged by this article, not only because it lucidly rebuffs the equating of Palestinian activism with Antisemitism but also because it appeared on a University website (in Connecticut, USA).
It is important that these discussions take place on University campuses, and it is important that free speech be given full reign in these contexts. Students must be encouraged to pursue the truth about Israel/Palestine without being pilloried as racists for doing so!
Pro-Palestine does not mean anti-Semitic
By Omar Allam
The screams of an Israeli Air Force fighter jet ricochet through the barren lands of Gaza, as the sounds of explosions reverberate off the bones of 11 Palestinian children and women, who were charred to death during the air strike.
Almost 50 miles away in Tel Aviv, the Israeli military stated the target was a terrorist militant group in Gaza.
This was reported by the Huffington Post.
These air strikes were another part of the Israeli deterrence policy to create extreme preventive punishment and make any attack or retaliation too costly. U.S. media coverage of the Israeli attack on Gaza portrayed the war as an “endless conflict between two foreign entities” and claimed that Israel is justifiably “defending itself,” according to The Guardian.
One can only condemn the violence, as it is never the answer to any issue.
Nonetheless, western media has focused so much attention on Israel, and has ignored the Palestinian perspective on the apartheid system in the contested territory, that Americans have associated Palestinians as a terrorists and Palestinian support with anti-Semitism.
But, is someone really anti-Jewish if you criticize Israel?
To answer such a question, one would need to discuss the issue with a follower of the Jewish religion.
Stanley Heller is a semi-retired schoolteacher, and he is also a Jew. Heller, like most people, has no tolerance for Anti-Semitism. It “is a hideous crime; it’s a stupid blind hatred,” Heller said.
As Executive Director of the 30-year-old Middle East Crisis Committee, Heller also is a firm supporter in equality and human rights for all.
He explained that, “Jews were once viewed as inferiors, sub-humans, disturbers of the peace and not only by Nazis, but by lots of people and, ironically, Palestinians are facing the same type of discrimination, today.”
In Israel, there is “an ever-deepening apartheid. … Palestinians are being driven away from their homes. In addition, there is aggressiveness against any type of resistance, violent and non-violent,” Heller said. Palestinians are now confined to walled ghettos.
In Gaza, they’re subjected to a blockade of essential basic necessities, and are facing economic sanctions placed by Israel.
Heller, however, is not the only Jew advocating for basic human rights for Palestinians. There are many Jewish groups pushing for Palestinian human rights such as Jewish Voice for Peace, Orthodox Jews United Against Zionism, Rabbis for Human Rights, etc.
A cable released by Wikileaks showed that the officials in U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv wrote, “as part of their overall embargo plan against Gaza, Israeli officials have confirmed (…) on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge.”
The vidence supporting human right violations against Israel is overwhelming; nonetheless there has been limited coverage over the worsening human rights conditions that Palestinians face.
Adam Antar, founder of the Students for Justice in Palestine, a newly founded organization on campus, stated, “the asymmetrical burden of casualties on the part of the Palestinians is one of the most widely acknowledged injustices across the globe. There is nothing racist about advocating for peace and justice for the Palestinians, who have been targeted simply for their existence and identity. In fact, criticizing Israeli policies supports equality and combats racism.”
The state of Israel has laws dictating the segregation of Palestinians from Israelis pertaining to where they can work, where they can live, to what bus they can get on. Similar laws were created in the post-Civil War era in the U.S. to ensure the denomination of African Americans. The Civil Rights movement is justifiably the story of our greatest American heroes, those who stood up for equality and justice. But when Palestinians try to stand up for the same goals, they are labeled as troublemakers, terrorists, and racists.
So to the question, “is someone really Anti-Jewish if he or she criticizes Israel?” The answer is clearly no.
This is an important essay by Gilad Atzmon. Certainly his central claim – that the Palestinian solidarity movement is being hijacked by a Judeo-centric agenda – will be more true in some areas than others.
There will always remain some groups that are outrightly anti-Semitic. Even so, Atzmon is surely correct – that the Zionist narrative that so dominates mainline media has had a significant influence in shaping Palestinian activism worldwide.
Is there a path back? Atzmon hopes so, but he doesn’t give us any details as to where to start.
Time for Palestine solidarity to liberate itself
By Gilad Atzmon
The Palestine solidarity movement is being hijacked and forced to swallow a Judaeo-centric agenda that has nothing to do with the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to return to their homeland from which they were ethnically cleansed.
Palestine solidarity activists are increasingly required to subscribe to the Judaeo-centric notion that Jews and Jewish suffering are uniquely special; that Jews alone are like no other people; that the Jewish holocaust is like no other genocide; and that racism comes in degrees of vileness depending on who the victims are, with anti-Semitism being worse than any other form of racism because it targets Jews.
Conversely, according to this Judaeo-centric worldview, when it comes to the Palestinians the exact opposite is the case.
We are expected to believe that, unlike the Jews, the Palestinians are not special at all and are just like everyone else. Palestinians, we are now required to believe, are not the victims of a unique, racist, nationalist and expansionist Jewish nationalist movement. Instead, we are told to agree that, as with Native Americans and Africans, the ordeal of the Palestinian people is the result of run-of-the-mill 19th century colonialism – just more of the same old boring apartheid.
So, we are instructed to swallow the racist notion that Jews, Zionists and Israelis are exceptional, like no one else, while Palestinians are always, somehow, ordinary, always part of some greater political narrative, always just like everyone else. Their suffering is never due to the particularity of Jewish nationalism, Jewish racism or even the domination of US foreign policy by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). No, the Palestinian is always the victim of a dull, banal dynamic – general, abstract and totally lacking in particularity.
read the rest of this article here: http://www.redressonline.com/2013/03/time-for-palestine-solidarity-movement-to-liberate-itself/
Father Roy writes:
Peers, the article pasted below has been published in Israeli newspapers. Alan Dershowitz has made a very serious charge. An accusation of this magnitude cannot be swept under a rug. Is there any truth in what Dershowitz is saying? Is there any truth in what Cardinal Maradiaga is reported to have said?
Peers, this matter cannot be allowed to fester. Let’s do some independent research: Who controls the media?
Alan Dershowitz says leading candidate for papacy is an anti-Semite
Harvard law professor says Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras blamed the Jews for scandal surrounding Catholic sex abuse, and ‘compared Jewish controlled media with Hitler’.
In a letter to the editor of the Miami Herald, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said that one of the leading candidates to replace Pope Benedict XVI is an anti-Semite.
Responding to a list published last week after the resignation of Benedict, which identified Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras as a possible successor to the current pope, Dershowitz wrote: "He has blamed the Jews for the scandal surrounding the sexual misconduct of priests toward young parishioners! He has argued that the Jews got even with the Catholic Church for its anti-Israel positions by arranging for the media — which they, of course, control, he said — to give disproportionate attention to the Vatican sex scandal. He then compared the Jewish controlled media with Hitler, because they are ‘protagonists of what I do not hesitate to define as a persecution against the church.’"
Maradiaga, in a May 2002 interview with the Italian-Catholic publication "30 Giorni," claimed Jews influenced the media to exploit the current controversy regarding sexual abuse by Catholic priests in order to divert attention from the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.
At the time, the Anti-Defamation League expressed public outrage at the cardinal’s comments. In a later conversation with ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, Maradiaga apologized and said he never meant for his remarks to be taken as perpetuating an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory about Jewish control of the media, and promised never to say it again.
"The Vatican has rightly called anti-Semitism a sin, and yet an unrepentant sinner is on the short list to become the leader of the Catholic Church," Dershowitz insists in his letter to the editor. "If that were to occur, all of the good work by recent popes in building bridges between the Catholic Church and the Jews would be endangered. This should not be allowed to happen."