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The boycott of Israel


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The suggestion there should be a debate about an academic boycott of Israel has prompted attempts to close down the discussion as being anti-semitic, most recently by Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School, (famous for defending OJ Simpson inter alia) on Channel 4 news.

I do think that the day we had to accept lectures on human rights from the White House came to an end when they set up the university of Abu Ghraib, the college of Guantanamo bay and the various little CIA torture schools around the world.

It is particularly sickening to see a boycott defined as terrorism or "giving aid and comfort to terrorism" to use the White House doubletalk. There is no more peaceful method of protest than a boycott.

If I no longer buy Jaffa I am not likely to bring down the Zionist government, but I am saying I refuse to be an accomplice in the appalling treatment of the Palestinians by that government.

(Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Dershowitz published an essay in the San Francisco Chronicle entitled "Want to Torture? Get a Warrant," in which he advocates the issuance of warrants permitting the torture of terrorism suspects if there were an "absolute need to obtain immediate information in order to save lives coupled with probable cause that the suspect had such information and is unwilling to reveal it." He is described in America as a "civil libertarian". Standards have slipped haven't they.)

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The suggestion there should be a debate about an academic boycott of Israel has prompted attempts to close down the discussion as being anti-semitic, most recently by Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School, (famous for defending OJ Simpson inter alia) on Channel 4 news.

I do think that the day we had to accept lectures on human rights from the White House came to an end when they set up the university of Abu Ghraib, the college of Guantanamo bay and the various little CIA torture schools around the world.

It is particularly sickening to see a boycott defined as terrorism or "giving aid and comfort to terrorism" to use the White House doubletalk. There is no more peaceful method of protest than a boycott.

If I no longer buy Jaffa I am not likely to bring down the Zionist government, but I am saying I refuse to be an accomplice in the appalling treatment of the Palestinians by that government.

(Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Dershowitz published an essay in the San Francisco Chronicle entitled "Want to Torture? Get a Warrant," in which he advocates the issuance of warrants permitting the torture of terrorism suspects if there were an "absolute need to obtain immediate information in order to save lives coupled with probable cause that the suspect had such information and is unwilling to reveal it." He is described in America as a "civil libertarian". Standards have slipped haven't they.)

Do you support this boycott because you believe that Israel poses more of a threat to world peace than say USA, China, Iran, etc.?

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John asks whether I support the boycott because of Israel's threat to world peace. The biggest threat to world peace is capitalism not Israel. However if the peaceful non-violent and non-terrorist boycott of Israel means that I am not an accomplice to the appalling treatment of the Palestinians then I am happy with that.

And as you might have noticed I am a member of the CWI (Committee for a Workers' International) and the Socialist Party. Our record on Iran, North Korea and China...and the USA is perfectly clear and well documented. Dershowitz is just being disingenuous.

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The suggestion there should be a debate about an academic boycott of Israel has prompted attempts to close down the discussion as being anti-semitic, most recently by Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School, (famous for defending OJ Simpson inter alia) on Channel 4 news.

I do think that the day we had to accept lectures on human rights from the White House came to an end when they set up the university of Abu Ghraib, the college of Guantanamo bay and the various little CIA torture schools around the world.

It is particularly sickening to see a boycott defined as terrorism or "giving aid and comfort to terrorism" to use the White House doubletalk. There is no more peaceful method of protest than a boycott.

If I no longer buy Jaffa I am not likely to bring down the Zionist government, but I am saying I refuse to be an accomplice in the appalling treatment of the Palestinians by that government.

(Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Dershowitz published an essay in the San Francisco Chronicle entitled "Want to Torture? Get a Warrant," in which he advocates the issuance of warrants permitting the torture of terrorism suspects if there were an "absolute need to obtain immediate information in order to save lives coupled with probable cause that the suspect had such information and is unwilling to reveal it." He is described in America as a "civil libertarian". Standards have slipped haven't they.)

FWIW, I agree completely with Derek's perspective here. "There is no more peaceful method of protest than a boycott." And what better way than for academics and intellectuals worldwide to appeal to the conscience of Israeli academics and intellectuals by insisting on intellectual honesty -- viz, about their very own government and society? This is particularly and specifically relevant in terms of biblical scholars, archaelogists, etc, as it seems logical that quite a bit of foreign exchange capital flows into Israel thereby (and how much to the "Palestinian Authority," for instance?)

I also agree with the critique of people like Dershowitz and of this White House, which has given us Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and "rendition centers" around the world. The Bush Administration and ideologues/apologists like Dershowitz continue to deny the fact that Israeli policies toward Palestinians (and Arabs in Lebanon, and Israel's own Arab citizens) are at the heart of "the problem," and they also set up, encourage and promote the idea that all these Palestinians and others can only be understood as "terrorists" and "enemies of Israel." The Sharon government understood how to exploit this dynamic quite well after September 11: it routinely employed the rhetoric of "War on Terror" as justification for its "approach" to "the Palestinian problem."

And yet, as I continue to hope should be clear enough by now, it's very damned difficult to have serious discussion, debate, criticism, etc of Israel and its government and its policies without becoming aligned with and mistaken for those who are mere antisemites per se.

I agree. The US and Israel have learned that they can get away with acts of aggression by stamping these actions with the 'war on terror' brand name. The Western media is fully complicit in this deception, as they appear to condone any Israeli aggression and hardship imposed upon the Palestinians. The alternative of asking Israel to justify its actions seems to be too much to ask of the Western media. They are a shameful disgrace.

Israel's denial of funds required for the maintenance of the Palestinian Government, resulting in unpaid teachers and public servants and desperate families, is the latest in a long line of injustices heaped upon these people. That Israel is allowed to control the purse strings of another nation, and can deny vital funds to ordinary Palestinians on the pretext that the Government they elected is not to their liking, is proof that the Palestinians are a people that the world has turned it's back on.

As for your final sentence, yes it's difficult to discuss these issues without being tagged as anti-Semitic by those wishing to brush the issue under the carpet. People who accuse me of anti-Semitism get short shrift.

Israel and the US deserve strong condemnation for the mess they have created in this region and I'll condemn them loud and long. If those whose motivation is 'mere anti-semitism' join in the condemnation that's too bad. The more urgent issue is to help Israel to rediscover its moral compass and to convince both Israel and the US that war in the region has the potential to spread. A global conflict based on religion can only be bad news for everyone.

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The motion to boycott Israeli academic institutions hasn't actually been passed. The British Union of Colleges will consider the moral implications for a year and then vote on it.

Other groups are beginning to call for actions in protest at what is being described as Israel's apartheid regime. One group, 'Jews for boycotting Israeli goods', has called for the upcoming soccer international between Israel and England, scheduled for Wembley on September 8, to be disrupted. Even the C of E appears to be becoming active:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/871280.html

The groundswell of international support for Palestine seems to be growing.

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One group, 'Jews for boycotting Israeli goods', has called for the upcoming soccer international between Israel and England, scheduled for Wembley on September 8, to be disrupted. Even the C of E appears to be becoming active:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/871280.html

That sounds like a day to mark down in the diary for a possible false flag operation.

Al Qaida Goes To Wembley?

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John asks whether I support the boycott because of Israel's threat to world peace. The biggest threat to world peace is capitalism not Israel. However if the peaceful non-violent and non-terrorist boycott of Israel means that I am not an accomplice to the appalling treatment of the Palestinians then I am happy with that.

And as you might have noticed I am a member of the CWI (Committee for a Workers' International) and the Socialist Party. Our record on Iran, North Korea and China...and the USA is perfectly clear and well documented. Dershowitz is just being disingenuous.

Derek,

I agree that Israel, despite the fact that certain hardline Zionists are urging the US to attack Iran, is not the greatest threat to world peace. America must be considered a greater threat to world peace based on such factors as their awesome arsenal of weaponry and increasingly belligerent determination to secure a disproportionately large share of non-renewable resources for themselves.

When a nation which makes up 5% of global population consumes 25% of the world's oil, then they have a problem. When that nation possesses 10,000 nuclear warheads and a vast conventional armoury and are capable of electing someone like George Bush, then the rest of the world has a problem.

However, the real problem which underpins the US threat is rampant capitalism. Not the benign form of capitalism whereby goods and services are exchanged for a reasonable profit, but the malignant ideology which has infected modern economies. This ideology demands unsustainable growth in perpetuity, disregard for the environment which provides all natural resources and disdain for public ownership of essential services and Government expenditure on anything that it does not benefit from.

People are slowly realising that the dogma of globalisation is merely a trick whereby large corporations can abandon communities at will and relocate to places where reduced costs of production equate to a better bottom line. Using the excuse of globalisation to increase shareholder returns (without any feelings of guilt or shame) is just another tool of this neo-capitalist ideology.

The engine room of this ideology resides in the US. It is so deeply rooted in greed that it sees no problem in corrupting the polital process in order to achieve higher profits, regardless of the social costs. Herein lie the seeds of its eventual destruction, imo. The are a plethora of lobby groups which use the supply or withholding of funds to members of Congress as a means of forcing elected representatives to do their bidding. As the ideology of neo-capitalism dissolves the middle classes and concentrates most of the nation's wealth in the hands of the priveliged few, the Government will find that its best efforts to reverse the trend are hamstrung by their subservience to special interests and their lobbies, almost to the point of paralysis. We are currently witnessing a good example of this in the powerlessness of the US to intervene in the Palestinian problem, despite the fact that America underwrites Israel. The fact that this is not a hot issue with the average American is because it has little immediate impact on their standard of living. However, neo-capitalism is an entirely different issue and it will eventually hit them hard.

When they discover that this ideology will result in greatly reduced living standards for the majority, and the Government is unable to help them, a grass roots movement for radical change will emerge. The only alternative to the election of a left wing Government will be the emergence of a fully fledged police state which would ensure free and fair elections are not possible.

Being an optimist at heart, I believe America will not go the way of the police state, despite the best efforts of the reprehensible band of criminals currently at the helm. I believe America will swing to the left, as John Simkin predicted some time back.

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To clarify, I think academics in particular have to seriously weigh the issue; potentially becoming aligned with, exploited by, or mistaken for antisemites is a real consideration as there clearly are organizations and "schools of thought" that promote an antisemitic agenda. But being tagged as antisemitic should present no problem for those who've provided some significant evidence of where they stand. Merely giving short shrift to accusations of antisemitism doesn't count; it's only an odd twist on Rene' Descartes --- I deny it; therefore I am not.

Thanks for the clarification Daniel. I doubt it was necessary.

I think anyone who has read your posts previously would already know that you believe you have a quasi-divine right to scrutinize the motivations of those who find themselves repelled by the apartheid State of Israel - deciding what opposition to the 'Jewish State' is acceptable and what is not.

I'm reminded of the Fox News slogan: "We report, you decide"

Now I get back to watching my TV and the live images of the latest stage in the 6-decade long slow torture of those who happened to be so unlucky as to find themselves nearby neighbours of the 'light unto nations'.

Edited by Sid Walker
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There are many more effective protests against the Zionist government - the people who have refused military service for example. However the opposition of Alan Dershowitz was to a decision to debate the issue. That is what he was opposing.

His reasoning was specious and disingenuous. He certainly did not support a boycott of the US and he came close to blaming the Palestinians for the lack of democracy in Iran, China and North Korea.

And he equated, as the White House has done, support for a boycott with support for terrorism.

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To clarify, I think academics in particular have to seriously weigh the issue; potentially becoming aligned with, exploited by, or mistaken for antisemites is a real consideration as there clearly are organizations and "schools of thought" that promote an antisemitic agenda. But being tagged as antisemitic should present no problem for those who've provided some significant evidence of where they stand. Merely giving short shrift to accusations of antisemitism doesn't count; it's only an odd twist on Rene' Descartes --- I deny it; therefore I am not.

Thanks for the clarification Daniel. I doubt it was necessary.

I think anyone who has read your posts previously would already know that you believe you have a quasi-divine right to scrutinize the motivations of those who find themselves repelled by the apartheid State of Israel - deciding what opposition to the 'Jewish State' is acceptable and what is not.

I'm reminded of the Fox News slogan: "We report, you decide"

Au contraire, mi amigo. I claim no divine rights, quasi- or otherwise, and I have no problem with those who find themselves repelled by the policies of the "State" of Israel (why would I, since I share that revulsion?). I do criticize the repeated, abundant evidence produced in this very forum by those who are obsessively intent on promoting an antisemitic perspective on things. It's an odd thing called being consistent as much as possible, like criticizing bigotry per se. And not understanding that, you would not understand my very negative attitude towards Mr. Murdoch's Fox News (and media empire), much less understand that antisemitic ideologues are at bottom no different from someone like Dershowitz -- both are fundamentally dishonest

Daniel

When I was considerably younger, I was peripherally involved with the anti-apatheid movement.

That's to say, I wasn't a big wheel in anti-apartheid circles - but I did support the movement. I attended rallies and public meetings. Many of my friends, irrespective of skin pigment, origins and religious views, were also involved in a similar way.

I never once recall a conversation in which the motives of a supporter were challenged in such a way as to question the legitimacy of their involvement in the campaign. It may well have happened in my presence but I don't recall it. No-one's involvement in the struggle was considered 'illegitimate' (except, of course, for pro-apartheid infiltrators).

That's not to say there weren't fierce debates about goals and strategy. There were. I probably met more PAC supporters than ANC. The black nationalism of the PAC was problematic for non-African supporters such as myself. For those guys, Steve Biko was a figure of greater appeal than the more inclusive Madela of the ANC.

Yet despites the inevitable uncertaintaies about post-apartheid South Africa, all parts of the anti-apartheid movement, in my experience, respected each others right to participate in the struggle. There was, as I recall it, a generally held view that the broadest possible coalition was necessary to defeat a very evil heresy: the notion that one group of people are inherently superior to others and should be subject to different laws.

Indians fought their own battles with this 'heresy' - witness the long struggle to impose secular and egalitarian values on a previously caste-ridden society. The notion of a minority having elite status was scarcely unque to South Africa. All societies have messy pasts.

The difference, we felt, in the case of South Africa, was that it was an attempt to build a modern, powerful, nation-State on caste principles. That was simply beyond the pale. It's one thing to have inherited problems. It's another to entrench systemic injustice through one's own will.

Now, contrast the Israel/Palestine conflict and debacle.

Of course there are differences. Indeed there are. Yet over its 60 years existence, the Israeli State has moved closer and closer to something which combines supremacist laws with brutal military oppression that goes way beyond the worst excesses of South Africa.

Naturally, there's an international movement against apartheid Israel. But it does not get the bounce of the anti-apartheid movement, for a number of major reasons.

One of these is the mass media. By the 1980s, most of the western media had swung against South Africa. By contrast, the western media, as a whole, is egregiously biased towards Israel, in blatant and in subtle ways.

Another key reason, IMO, is the way that the concept of 'Anti-Semitism' has been deployed in the debate over opposition to Israel. This card is played by objective enemies of Palestine who know precisely what they are doing. But it is also played by innocents, who anxiously wish to 'protect' the perceived purity of the pro-Palestine movement.

Imagine what might have happened to the anti-apartheid movement had the regime survived until the present day and successfully managed to cripple opposition by incessant, debilitating mis-focus on self-policing against 'black racism' or 'African fundamentalism' - instead of building a united broad front of opposition to apartheid. Horror and chaos! By now, with Mandela dead in prison, a new generation of anti-apartheid activists would be locked in internal conflict, both inside and beyond the borders of South Africa. Within the country, expect gang warfare between rival factions of blacks, subtly orchestrated by the South African secret police.

Daniel, you may well act out of good motives in relation to the Palestinian, but IMO you do the cause no favour by repeatedly turning the debate to avoidance of 'anti-Semitism'.

In Australia, there's a term called 'wedge politics', of which our current Prime Minister is widely regarded as a prime exponent. It's hyping-up issues to split the opposition.

The movement against the Israeli supremacist State has been wedged from the outset by a very clever campaign to ferment disunity, using the accusation of 'anti-Semitism' to divide and weaken opposition to Israel.

For the record, I also dislike a lot of anti-Jewish rhetoric and terminology that I encounter (not here, of course - but in less polite domains). I recall feeling similarly about some of the anti-White and separatist sentiments I heard expressed by PAC activists in the 70s and 80s.

But in the case of South Africa, we kept the main enemy - the South African regime) - in our sights.

IMO, those who genuinely oppose Israeli apartheid should take the same approach.

The Israelis have already physically separated the Palestinian people into isolated cantons and concentration camps. The least we, as external supporters, can do is to maintain unity and focus - especially at a time when we may be about to witness one of the worst horrors of six bloody decades of repression, occupation and step-by-step dispossession.

Edited by Sid Walker
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Right on cue, Anthony Julius and Alan Dershowitz intone the ritual curse in the hallowed pages of The Times: This boycott is not just wrong, it’s anti-Semitic

Dershowitz is very pleased with himself at the moment, having got his own back in his long-standing vendetta against Norman Finkelstein, who so ably exposed the fraudulence of Dershowitz's so-called 'scholarship' in earlier encounters.

As for as the substantive issues raised by the hectoring Dershowitz and his side-kick, I recommend philosopher Gilad Atzmon as an antidote.

The 3rd Category and the Palestinian Solidarity Movement is a good place to start.

Edited by Sid Walker
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Just a small addition to Mark Stapleton's point about the nuances of the anti-apartheid movement …

The name of the UNITA movement in Angola means 'the union for the total independence of Angola', which sounds like a very creditable aim. UNITA was, however, strongly supported by the Portuguese colonial authorities, the white South Africans and the Reagan administration as a counter-weight to the MPLA (who were and are in power in Angola). However, what 'total' meant for UNITA was 'no whites', since the MPLA had been quite successful in persuading some skilled 'ex-Portuguese' people to remain in Angola and take up Angolan citizenship. One of the rather surreal experiences I had when I was on the way to Luanda was seeing a party of white nuns going through the 'Angolan passports' gate in the Arrival hall at Luanda airport.

Angola's population is largely split between two large language groups, and the strategy of the colonial authorities and the South Africans was to encourage friction between the two groups. Rather, I think, like the way that Israel encourages friction between groups of people who oppose its policies.

When it comes to a boycott, the EU doesn't even have to go that far. A simple enforcement of the current terms of the trade agreement between the EU and Israel, for example, to ensure that goods from the occupied areas aren't given the same favourable customs tariffs as goods from Israel 'proper' would put an enormous amount of pressure on the Israeli economy.

In other words, start applying the rules, rulings and agreements that are already there … there are one or two UN resolutions which have yet to be complied with, I believe.

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Daniel

When I was...

...............................

The Israelis have already physically separated the Palestinian people into isolated cantons and concentration camps. The least we, as external supporters, can do is to maintain unity and focus - especially at a time when we may be about to witness one of the worst horrors of six bloody decades of repression, occupation and step-by-step dispossession.

As usual, all that sounds very reasonable. But it's been some time since I seriously considered taking you at your word on anything.

I can see no reason why I should be allied with any bigot......least of all for what I'm told is "unity of purpose." More is asked for by way of moral consistency than saying, "I'm opposed to the policies of Israel and so I think it's great being buddies with all the Nazis who've found something that works in spreading hatred toward Jews. We're all in it together and all working towards the same goal, so everything's fine." Nein, das ist falsch. We're most definitely NOT working towards the same goal and sharing common values, web-meister; I don't care to drink from the same trough as you, partisan that you are of people like Carto and Irving and Piper.

It may well be that the future of this Forum is to become merely an auxiliary outpost of Stormfront, where all the bigot-"intellectuals" can come and hang out and talk about the Big Conspiracy that lies behind all the other conspiracies. If so, then so be it. But I do finally recognize I've said about all I could by way of standing against it and that there's really no purpose in "debating" and trying to reason with people who have no conscience. They will say whatever they need to in order to "get by," and everyone else will just have to judge things for themselves.

If it sounds reasonable… have you ever considered the possibility that it may be reasonable?

As for bigots and guilt by association, I think you are, as usual, utterly one-eyed.

During Israel's brief existence as an independent nation, its own Government has, from time to time, entered into close understandings – often clandestine – with a range of external states and sectional interests. These include some very insalubrious alliances, with regimes such as Iran under the Shah and apartheid South Africa.

Fraternization with bigots and thugs does not seem to raise your hackles in those cases. I have never seen Daniel Pipes or Alan Dershowitz complain about it either.

Yet apparently it’s fair game to police the pro-Palestinian movement, noisily checking to see who they work with… then blowing fog horns of outrage if connections discovered with people you brand as 'neo-Nazis’.

Why the perpetual double standard?

I agree that alliances with dubious external allies amounts to supping with the devil. Use of a long spoon is advised.

The PLO is currently (re-?)discovering that, to the cost of the long-suffering Palestinian people.

As for the future of the forum, I think, to the contrary, that’s it is a quite rare virtual place where serious, potentially constructive discussion is possible on these important topics.

Your comment about consciences is out of line, IMO. Pure arrogance.

It suggests you discount utterly concerns I raise on a variety of topics, because I fall foul of your pet certitudes. That’s the kind of dhe kind of complete denial of the perspective of the other that we see in a more extreme form on the ground today in the Holy Land, in all its cruelty, shamelessness and horror.

Edited by Sid Walker
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