Thinking about BDS (1): Infantilization, ‘Safe Spaces’, and Threats to Discourse

An angry discussion has broken out about the self-infantilizing character of American university life (and beyond). The basic argument is that contemporary American universities have, in the name of an infantilizing form of pseudo-therapeutic psychobabble, come to stigmatize the very idea of discourse or debate that hurts anyone’s feelings. The criticism comes mostly from the political-academic right (in some sense, however vague) and targets the political-academic left (in the same vague sense). Here’s a piece on the subject in Intercollegiate Review. Here’s an overview from Inside Higher Ed from last year, and a much-discussed one from The New York Times this past March. Here’s a critical commentary from Salon inspired by the Times article. Here’s a more aggressive take on the same from Reason magazine. Here’s the take at the Breitbart site. Here’s the most recent take from BHL.

I basically agree with “the right” on this one, at least in a qualified sort of way. I agree that discourse at American universities is, across the board, irrationally constrained by pseudo-therapeutic rather than truth- or justice-guided norms. We care far too much about how people will feel than how they think, or how they should be thinking. We also care too much about how people will feel than we do about how good our arguments are, how much evidence supports them, or for that matter how rhetorically persuasive they would be to a person of psychologically normal sensibilities.

I don’t mean to suggest that we should be insensitive to people’s feelings or special sensitivities, or to go out of our way to offend them. There’s a balance to be struck between candor and tact. But the balance cannot involve the outright sacrifice of alethic to therapeutic concerns: “sensitivity” can’t dictate that nothing be said out loud that might be construed as insensitive or “triggering” for some person or audience.

I reached the absolute limits of my patience with the “sensitivity” phenomenon when I was obliged last year (along with the rest of the faculty and staff at my institution) to take “sensitivity training” designed to ensure compliance with federal anti-discrimination laws, as follows:

As a Catholic/Franciscan institution of higher education, Felician College unconditionally rejects all forms of discrimination and acknowledges our obligation to safeguard and enhance the dignity of every member of our College community. As part of our commitment  to create and to maintain an environment free of discrimination, intimidation, humiliation and harassment of any kind, and in compliance with both federal and state recommendations, all members of the Felician College faculty and staff are required to complete training on identifying and preventing harassment and discrimination in the workplace. …

It is a legal requirement that we provide harassment training annually.  Since it is very difficult to get everyone together for a lecture format, we have contracted with  Workplace Answers to provide online training for Felician College.  The basic module for faculty/staff should take no more than 40 minutes, the supervisory module (if required) about 20 minutes.  The FSI Corporate Compliance module is self-paced.

Feel free , incidentally, to take a look at the website of Workplace Answers to try to figure out what they’re all about. At best I think you’ll learn that online harassment training is a big and lucrative business involving the marketing of a lot of vacuous cliches.

It sounds innocuous, doesn’t it? It isn’t. If you actually endure the training, you’ll discover that the entire “compliance module” is a systematic assault on the norms of inquiry, discourse, and academic life. Here’s an actual example taken verbatim from the module: it is (we are told) unlawful harassment for a professor to hang a poster inside his office of the word “War” with a red slash through it, because the extremist anti-war message involved could be construed as “threatening” to, “discriminatory” against, or “harassing” of military veterans. (I can’t reproduce the actual graphic, because it’s protected by copyright.) The tacit reasoning seems to be: opposition to a political policy can be construed as “threatening” to those who (presumptively and stereotypically) may be thought to support the policy (e.g., veterans can be presumed to support war); meanwhile, passive acquiescence in the status quo, however unjust, is legally obligatory and “professionally appropriate” behavior.

One implication here seems to be that while combat veterans can handle combat on the battlefield, they cannot be expected to handle ideas like war in a university. Presumably, all returning military veterans suffer from a form of PTSD so intense that they will collapse into a dysfunctional heap at the mere mention of the word “war”–from which it follows that the word must never be spoken in their presence (except, I suppose, to praise it).* A second and more general implication seems to be that  “professionalism” in the “corporate” (=academic) context requires us to avoid discussing anything that might offend anyone’s sensitivities, even if doing so is central to the academic enterprise.

As I said before, most of the criticism of “academic infantilization” has targeted the left from the right, but one group, essentially located on the right, seems to me to have taken the infantilization of academic discourse to a generally undiscussed extreme. The group in question is the anti-BDS movement (or more pedantically, the anti-BDS counter-movement, since it opposes BDS, which precedes it).** In saying this, I don’t mean to be pronouncing on the correctness or incorrectness of BDS as a strategy for dealing with the Israeli occupation. That’s a complicated topic on which I reserve judgment, and which I’d like to think through here over the next few months. What’s clear, however, is that whether BDS is right or wrong–even if it’s entirely wrong–its critics and the movement they represent are a threat to the academy and to political discourse as such.

Two tactics are essential to the anti-BDS repertoire and particularly subversive of rational discourse: (1) gratuitous recourse to the race card, in the form of reflexive accusations of anti-Semitism as a means of discouraging debate; (2) resort to the (literal) use of force through “lawfare” in order to put BDS out of commission by force of law, and thereby put an end to debate that way. Many groups (especially ethno-religious groups) employ one or the other or both of these tactics, but few have done a “better” job of combining them in a single integrated assault on the norms of discourse. In doing so, the anti-BDS movement has, on American university campuses, become the discursive equivalent of the “price tag” movement in Israel: they’re among the vandals of our intellectual life. I find it instructive that right-wing critics of infantilized/trigger-warning discourse have almost nothing to say about this brazenly obvious example of the phenomenon they deplore. But they don’t.

One task on my agenda here in Palestine is to clarify my own views on BDS: I’ve been asking everyone I meet here in Palestine (and will ask anyone I meet in Israel) what they think about BDS. Personally, I’m in favor of divestment on the Princeton model, agnostic about sanctions, skeptical about boycotts, and generally opposed to academic boycotts. I realize that that sentence by itself will cost me friendships across the entire political spectrum. But that’s where I stand, at least for now.

In favor of BDS: I worry about anti-Semitism and about double standards within BDS, but I’m also uncompromisingly opposed to the Israeli occupation/settlement enterprise, and frankly have lost patience with views of a sort that permit opposition to the occupation but proscribe doing anything about it. That’s led to nothing but five decades of occupation, subsidized and supported by the American taxpayer. In a sense, it’s led to something worse: our acquiescence in the idea that it’s our fate or role to support the morally insupportable by insisting that it’s somehow a moral imperative to do so. We’ve become mere means to the end of the Israelis’ making the Palestinians mere means to their ends. And that has to end. BDS looks like the only viable option for hastening the end, or at least doing what’s in our power to hasten the end. So in principle, sign me up.

Skepticism about B and S: Though divestment seems relatively uncontroversial to me, non-targeted boycotts and sanctions potentially seem indiscriminate in their punitive features, and counter-productive in the sense of attacking the very parts of the Israeli public most sympathetic to Palestinian rights. So I can’t sign on the dotted line to the whole package, but am not willing to dismiss BDS out of hand, either. (I can, however, think of both American and Israeli companies and institutions that deserve to be boycotted.)

That said, one can’t even begin to think clearly about any of that in the atmosphere of hysterics generated by the anti-BDS movement. Hence the need for an initial blog-based “ground clearing” operation. In the next part of this series, I’ll talk a bit about the anti-Semitic “race card,” and its effects on discourse about Israel. In a third part, I’ll talk about the attempt to deal with BDS through “lawfare.” I don’t mean either discussion to be comprehensive; it’s a complicated topic, and I’m sure I’ll be returning to it periodically after this initial series is over (uncharitable interpretation: “Khawaja has an unhealthy obsession with that topic”). So there will be indefinitely many parts to this series as a whole.

More soon.

 *I teach at a “veteran friendly” institution, and have taught and taken classes with former combat veterans for years. They certainly do have special needs and sensitivities, but they also tend to be among the most mature and engaged students in a given classroom. I find Workplace Answers’s depiction of them frankly stupid, and I suspect that the veterans I know would, too.

**For vehicles of the movement, see The AMCHA Initiative, the BDS section of the Anti-Defamation League’s website, BDS Cookbook, Buycott Israel, Divest This, Divestment Watch, Engage, Israel Action Network, Israel On Campus Coalition, The Israel Project, and Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. See also Cary Nelson and Gabriel Noah Brahm’s The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel (2015). The title of the Nelson-Brahm book is a classic case of falsity in advertising: despite the title, the book is a wholesale critique of BDS as such, not just of academic boycotts. Despite the protests of a single author (Michael Berube), seven authors in the book go out of their way to argue that the BDS movement as a whole is anti-Semitic–a view clearly shared by the editors.

26 thoughts on “Thinking about BDS (1): Infantilization, ‘Safe Spaces’, and Threats to Discourse

  1. I think you overstate the extent to which the opposition comes from the right, no matter how vaguely you want to use that term. I suppose there’s some perverse sense in which Jason Brennan counts as part of “the right,” but there is no coherent sense in which Brian Leiter does, and he (along with many sympathetic commentators on his blog) are prominent and vocal opponents to “the new infantilism” (a favorite term of Leiter’s, if not a term of his own invention). For a moment I thought that perhaps we could justify your claim by the fact that the people who endorse the policies and attitudes that are being resisted tend to be on the “left,” so that whoever was opposing them must be from the “right.” But among other reasons to find that consideration unconvincing, some of the examples you offer are a case in point. It is not members of “the left” who try to silence criticisms of Israeli policy on university and college campuses, whether in the classroom or outside it, and it is not members of “the right” who are most likely to voice those criticisms. Discussion of Israeli-Palestinian issues is only one of the many topics that incite some people to flex their institutional muscles in order to silence their opponents, but it’s one of the prominent cases in which people on both “sides” have done so. Meanwhile, on many other issues the would-be silenced parties are often quite far to the “left” on almost any construal of that term; I’ve met a lot of Ovid scholars, for example (http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/05/14/columbia-students-claim-greek-mythology-needs-a-trigger-warning/), but I can’t think of any who would count as anything but solidly “left” (conservative scholars of Latin poetry are typically Vergilians or perhaps Horatians, rarely Ovidians; but even the formerly prominent Vergilian I know best and who is often described as “conservative” by other classicists frequently shares Facebook posts that would have the BHL folks wretching at least as often as any registered Republicans).

    My point is simply this: opposition and support for the sorts of policies you’re describing here seems to be something that cuts across the right/left divide; the vast majority of people I know on both the left and the right — again, on any sensible construal of those terms — would share your judgment of the anti-war poster case, whatever they happen to think about war in general or the particular wars (er, conflicts? military engagements?) the U.S. has got itself involved in recently. People’s views on these issues don’t map neatly onto the left/right divide, no matter how one divides it. This seems to me to be a significant fact that many people are at pains to ignore or deny. What we have in these cases is a set of issues that divide people, but not on the usual ideological lines. Here is a rare chance for people who otherwise disagree with one another to agree. It would seem better to acknowledge this fact than to cram this debate into a pre-existing left/right box.

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    • I didn’t intend anything to turn on the right/left issue. I basically agree with you that the attitudes cut across left/right lines. What I meant was that demands for sensitivity based on therapeutic language have usually originated with the left, and demands to toughen up have typically come from the right. That’s admittedly vague, but in a general way, I think it’s true. What’s happening in the Israeli case is that pro-Israel types are taking a page from the left, and concluding that they can play the same game.

      It’s true that neither Brennan nor Leiter are easily characterized as right-wing individuals, but my point was that the attitude they share and exemplify on this issue is a somewhat rightish one. Both Leiter and Brennan share a certain view of academia and the philosophy profession, and have a strong interest in defending the norms that prevail in its most prestigious sectors. Despite Leiter’s leftism and Brennan’s harder-to-characterize views, there is a literally conservative aspect to their rhetoric.

      Incidentally, a similar issue applies to the anti-BDS people I mention in the post. I locate anti-BDS “on the right,” but in fact, some of the individuals involved are quite left-wing in general orientation (and loudly so), e.g., Paul Berman, Martha Nussbaum, Cary Nelson, Mitchell Cohen, Seyla Benhabib, Eric Alterman, Todd Gitlin, etc. My point was, on Israel, the view they’ve taken aligns with the politics of the right. In other words, when it comes to Israel, the left tends to lean right.

      Re the Ovid scholars, I think the point is that though their politics may be left (even Marxist), the Washington Post article suggests that they have a relatively traditional approach to pedagogy. So they may not be right wing, but they are in some sense conservative. So the author’s use of the term “conservative” in the article isn’t entirely wrong, however vague or potentially confusing it may be.

      On a separate issue, this is what struck me as the most alarming feature of the WaPo article:

      “Oberlin College has published an official document on triggers, advising faculty members to ‘be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression,’ to remove triggering material when it doesn’t ‘directly’ contribute to learning goals and ‘strongly consider’ developing a policy to make ‘triggering material’ optional,” Jarvie wrote.

      My institution has now–in compliance with what it intuits as the demands of Middle States Accreditation–come to demand that syllabi take a standardized form. According to this standard form, the first two or three pages of a syllabus consist of boilerplate written in the jargon of Bloom’s Taxonomy, including such things as “learning objectives” (along with “learning outcomes,” “college, divisional, departmental and programmatic mission statements,” etc. etc.). When some of us protested the demand that we accommodate all this jargon, we were regarded as paranoid sticks in the mud. But now one sees the payoff: once you’re obliged to re-describe your course in the language of “learning outcomes,” the next politico-administrative step is to regard the class as reducible to the list of learning outcomes, which means that anything not captured by the list is filler and need not be in the course. If any of the filler is trigger material, out it goes (or rather: one is to “strongly consider” throwing it out).

      I don’t entirely blame Felician itself, because when Middle States came during our accreditation process to explain what they wanted from us, the Middle States representative was unable to give a single straight answer to any question she was asked about re what Middle States was looking for in our syllabi. One wise-ass in the audience said, “It sounds to us like if we follow your model of what a syllabus is to look like, it should look like a contract. But contracts can run to dozens of pages of boilerplate. Do you have any sense as to what the page limit should be on a syllabus for an undergraduate class? When can we be said to be going overboard?” The answer was, “Well, that’s a matter of pedagogical discretion.” So the questioner asked, “How about a syllabus that’s as long as a master’s thesis?” And she said, “Well, that’s a matter of pedagogical discretion.” (No, I wasn’t the questioner, though I wish I had been.)

      This is the second most alarming feature:

      The students then call on Columbia to “issue a letter to faculty about potential trigger warnings and suggestions for how to support triggered students” and institute “a mechanism for students to communicate their concerns to professors anonymously, as well as a mediation mechanism for students who have identity-based disagreements with professors.”

      “Finally, the center should create a training program for all professors, including faculty and graduate instructors, which will enable them to constructively facilitate conversations that embrace all identities, share best practices, and think critically about how the Core Curriculum is framed for their students,” the students write.

      Apparently, no trigger warning is required when you insist on a workload increase without an increase in compensation.

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  2. Granted that efforts to shut down opponents under the veil of a call for sensitivity originate on the left, I still object to describing the disagreement as a left/right disagreement even in a loose sense. Not only have plenty of people been willing to adopt the strategy in defense of conventionally right-wing objectives, but, more importantly, opposition to the strategy can and has come from people on what is conventionally regarded as the left, and that opposition can be and has been based on principles that such folks already accept and that are non-trivial parts of their thinking; these people don’t move anywhere when they object to such silencing tactics, let alone move to the right. Even if it’s true that the opposition is in at least some cases “conservative” in the sense you suggest Leiter’s is, I think that’s at best tangentially connected to left/right political divisions; it’s pretty apparent that efforts to preserve a culture of vigorous open debate and discussion, though conservative in one sense, bear no close connection to what we call “conservatism” in the U.S. I’m inclined to emphasize this point despite recognizing that it’s not crucial to what you’re about in these posts primarily because I think branding opposition as “right” or “conservative” and support “left” or “progressive” is not just false, but detrimental; branding it that way would make criticism far less likely to gain traction, because quite independently of substance anything tarred with the conservative/right-wing label faces marginalization in academia. So it’s not just a purely rhetorical point, but the rhetorical point is important; it’s not just that my opposition to silencing tactics in the name of sensitivity and my criticisms of proposals regarding trigger warnings and the like have nothing to do with my accepting any right-wing ideas, but that if the conventional wisdom comes to be that such opposition and criticism are conservative, we might as well accept defeat.

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  3. Pingback: Thinking about BDS (2): The Rhetoric of the Race Card | Policy of Truth

  4. I think there has always been a health distinction between being rude and disagreeing with an idea. One can argue a position politely or one can argue it quite rudely. I’m not sure how discourse is harmed by requiring politeness of expression. Let’s example the same statement made 5 ways.

    1) Hi. My name is Sam. I’d like to talk to you about the proposed $.05 tax on shopping bags. Are you amenable to a conversation about this before you vote?
    2) Hey when you go into the booth make sure to vote for the $.05 tax on shopping bags. Don’t be a polluter.
    3) (surrounded by pictures of landfills) Only assholes oppose the shopping bag tax.
    4) (spoken in a threatening manner) You better vote for the shopping bag tax, bitch. If you don’t when you get out of the booth I’m going to cut you.
    5) (follows person into the booth) Oh I’m just here to make sure you vote the right way on the shopping bag tax.

    (5) is highly illegal. (4) is often a crime. (3) is generally acceptable but rude and frequently turns voters off. (2) is acceptable and (1) is highly encouraged and helps to educate the citizenry something we all want. Same message, same political content but a variety of levels of rudeness in delivering it.

    ______

    Being rude is often effective in getting the message out. Most people consider what they have to say oh so very important, much more important than others. And as a result feel entitled to be rude for their particular cause or issue. There are many kinds of situations where behaviors are advantageous to an individual doing them but harmful in the aggregate to the society, and we quite often do handle them through legal regulatory regimes. I don’t know why rudeness has to be treated differently than any other petty offensive. Just like it is possible to refine oil to gasoline without destroying rivers and lakes it is possible to discuss politics without poising the social atmosphere. People just have to put in some effort to do so politely. I don’t see the harm in that.

    ____

    Finally look at your example of the “War” with a slash through it. There was no inquiry or discourse in hanging that poster. That poster is just simple advocacy, inquiry or discourse would be “XYZ War” with a question mark asking questions about how to evaluate a particular war, or perhaps a seminar on doctrines of war. Most people are prohibited from political advocacy in their workplace unrelated to their job. So for example it is perfectly appropriate for me to discuss the FCC professionally (I work in telco) or manufacturing regulations but something like pro or anti war is irrelevant to what we engage in inquiry and discourse on. It doesn’t assist inquiry or discourse it interferes with it, what professional value does my opinion on wars have? I don’t think there is anything wrong with a professor in: ethics, divinity school… teaching an anti-war position. I do think for them the poster is potentially unnecessarily rude and I’d like an academic to have a more nuanced position. But fine that’s where the value of not regulating speech outweighs the advantages of taste. However there is something definitely wrong with that for English lit, or chemistry. Professors should be experts in researching and teaching on particular narrow fields, if they want to be political activists that’s a different job.

    BTW the same way that I expect professors in comp sci to prep students for telco, So a student should be able to understand something that same ARIN (American Registry of Internet Numbers) is advocating for. I don’t expect them to advocate for or against particular regulatory issues.
    ____

    BDS, when we aren’t talking professors inciting against students is mainly a student club. Students harassing and intimidating other students in ways that are unnecessarily rude. None of that behavior is necessary for discussing Israeli policy. The inquiry into what is the best policy with respect to Israel is shut down not assisted by their behavior.

    Hi my name is Sam. I’d like to talk to you about out University’s investment policy especially with respect to Israel. Are you amenable to a conversation about this? ….

    You would be seeing a very different reaction.

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    • This is a response to your 7:35 am post. I think there are a couple of things to be said in response.

      First, my model for a BDS campaign is Princeton Divests. I think they’ve been a model of both civility and effectiveness. Do you regard them as rude by your standards? (I’ll address anti-Semitism more directly in the next response.)

      Second, when it comes to political discourse, I regard “rudeness” and “politeness” as a false dichotomy. There is advocacy that falls between those two poles–discourse that is firm, clear, and direct without being either “polite” or “rude.” Neither the Declaration of Independence, nor Lincoln’s First Inaugural, nor MLK’s Letter from Birmingham Jail are notable for their “politeness.” Nor are they notably “rude.” They simply say what needed to be said, say it without concessions to the other side, and say it well. That’s the relevant standard, and I think the best advocacy on behalf of BDS (e.g., Princeton Divests) meets it.

      Third, a public statement of support for BDS is not an individualized invitation to a particular person to have a conversation. When you declare yourself in favor of BDS, as I have here and Princeton Divests has on its website, you’re not addressing some particular person, Sam, and inviting him to have a conversation. So your analogy doesn’t work. I don’t see anything objectionable about how I’ve expressed myself. The irony is that since you haven’t actually addressed the substance of my post, I have no idea whether or not your comment is intended as a response to it.

      Fourth, discourse has to be appropriate to the subject matter. The subject matter in this case is Israel’s military occupation and settlement enterprise. That enterprise is both unjust and contrary to the stated policies of the United States Government. It’s not itself a particularly polite endeavor (something I know from personal experience with its enforcers), and neither is the support expressed for it, in Israel, in the West Bank, or in the U.S. The issue of politeness becomes particularly irrelevant with people who irresponsibly feel free to throw around accusations of “anti-Semitism” while skimping mightily on the evidence for their claims. I was discussing just such people in the original post (and in a later one).

      Politeness will become imperative for advocates of BDS when the people in charge of the Israeli occupation say (and mean) things like this:

      “Are you amenable to being occupied today? Are you amenable to our putting facts on the ground while we lock you in your ghettos, and shoot you if you try to leave without our permission? Are you amenable to our forcibly entering your homes in the middle of the night and asking highly intrusive questions about your family life simply because we can? Are you amenable to our expropriating you to build a wall through your neighborhood so that we can build a settlement on the other side of it while preventing you from setting foot there?”

      Of course, these questions presuppose, in a spirit of politeness, that if the answers from the Palestinian side are all “no,” then the Israelis will respond, “Well, we don’t want to be rude“–and desist. When they do that, I will crusade for politeness within BDS. But not before then.

      As for the War poster example, you say “there was no inquiry or discourse in hanging that poster.” I don’t know what that means. I’m assuming that the person who hung it up did so after making an inquiry into the nature of war, and after concluding that he or she was against war. Is it your view that doing so should be illegal? That’s what I was disputing in the original post.

      You say that the poster is simple “advocacy.” Of course it is. What’s wrong with simple advocacy? You say that most people are prohibited from political advocacy in the workplace that is unrelated to their job. Two responses: that is exactly what I am objecting to; and in an academic context, I don’t think political advocacy is unrelated to one’s job. I also don’t see why any academic should regard his or her vocation “narrowly.” Knowledge forms an interconnected whole, and there is nothing wrong with identifying the interconnections within it outside of one’s official area of specialization in a university. I have to chuckle at your belief that the poster is “rude,” because my previous interlocutor here, David Riesbeck, took me to be belaboring the obvious in using it as an example. Having gone through sensitivity training, I know better: we live in a milieu in which anything can be regarded as ‘rude’ and thereby shut down. It’s amusing that you take BDS to be shutting down discourse by engaging in discourse; meanwhile, you’ve come out in favor of outright prohibitions on political advocacy. I hope it’s not rude to point out that that makes no sense.

      As for your claim that BDS is a matter of professorial incitement “against” anyone, I’d need to see specific evidence. I don’t doubt that there are bad apples among BDS advocates, and don’t doubt that lots of students are involved, but there are bad apples everywhere, and it’s obvious that more than students are involved in BDS. You’re making a very large generalizations, but you’ve provided no evidence to support it. I don’t know if that’s “rude” or not, but it’s no way to have an argument about a topic like this one.

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      • @Ifran

        First, my model for a BDS campaign is Princeton Divests. I think they’ve been a model of both civility and effectiveness. Do you regard them as rude by your standards? (I’ll address anti-Semitism more directly in the next response.)

        I’m responding in the opposite order to the order you wrote these in. I’ve already commented that I don’t consider Princeton Divests to be BDS at all.

        Second, when it comes to political discourse, I regard “rudeness” and “politeness” as a false dichotomy. There is advocacy that falls between those two poles–discourse that is firm, clear, and direct without being either “polite” or “rude.” Neither the Declaration of Independence, nor Lincoln’s First Inaugural, nor MLK’s Letter from Birmingham Jail are notable for their “politeness.”

        OK here we disagree. Let’s take the first inaugural. The whole tone is one of attempting reconciliation toward the seceded states. There is no hint of demonization or applying double standards anywhere in it. King’s letter similarly is an apology for the concept that law does not define the good, and that justice / the good should supersede the law. Again his goal is to convince. The declaration of independence in its very first sentence reaches out, “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

        Those letters demonstrate the complete opposite attitude of demands for the denormalization or relations and criminalization of ties with the Zionist regime. The American version isn’t any different: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaGNfKabwfQ
        . The message is one of pure hatred towards Jews, Judaism and Zionism. BTW don’t say this is about Israel the people he doesn’t want to break bread or artistically cooperate with are American Jews, not Israelis. It attacks even attempts to legitimize Jews as a party with which one can have negotiations. BTW you can also see at 1:50 in that video that he also rejects the concept that BDS is about the occupation if you want more evidence of this rejection.

        Your examples prove the exact opposite of what you want them to show. Those three examples demonstrate quite effectively how political entities engage opponents and try and win over people to their point of view. The BDS movement doesn’t do that. Which is pretty strong evidence it isn’t primarily a political movement trying to change policy.

        Third, a public statement of support for BDS is not an individualized invitation to a particular person to have a conversation. When you declare yourself in favor of BDS, as I have here and Princeton Divests has on its website, you’re not addressing some particular person,

        I’m a bit unclear after this dialogue if you even know what BDS means. I originally thought you were a BDS advocate but you seem to be more a mainstream liberal democrat opposed to the occupation and in favor of some level of pressure being applied to Israel to achieve policy change. Again, I think you are mistaken but that’s not BDS.

        Sam, and inviting him to have a conversation. So your analogy doesn’t work. I don’t see anything objectionable about how I’ve expressed myself. The irony is that since you haven’t actually addressed the substance of my post, I have no idea whether or not your comment is intended as a response to it.

        I’m trying to clear up some errors in your thinking that underly you post. You have some incorrect assumptions. Right now we are focusing on:

        a1) What’s the distinction between a hate group and a group that wants a simple policy change.

        a2) How to tell a hate group from a policy group apart? How hate groups operate vs. how policy groups operate.

        b) What’s the distinction between anti-Zionism (BDS) and liberal Zionism (anti-occupation).

        Fourth, discourse has to be appropriate to the subject matter. The subject matter in this case is Israel’s military occupation and settlement enterprise.

        No it isn’t. The discourse is whether Americans (or more globally the west) should adopt a policy of boycott, divestment and sanctions towards Israel until they meet 3 objectives only one of which is even related to the occupation and settlement enterprise. The occupation and settlement enterprise have little to do with the policy discussion. I can discuss the chemistry of high speed reactions without needing to blow up the room. There is no reason that because the topic is violent that the dialogue needs to be. Millions dies in the varies Congo Wars yet the topic was to the best of my knowledge always discussed humanely and politely. There is no tie between the subject matter and the tone of the discussion.

        Politeness will become imperative for advocates of BDS when the people in charge of the Israeli occupation say (and mean) things like this:

        They aren’t being rude merely to Israelis. But even if they were your argument is essentially that BDSers are a anti-Israeli combatants and should be held to the standard of a foreign army fighting for a foreign cause. Are BDSers Americans dealing with American policy, in which case Israelis are the force being acted upon or are they Palestinians directly involved in the conflict. If the later than they are free to be as rude as they choose towards Israel, and the FBI should arrest them for being agents of a foreign government.

        As for the War poster example, you say “there was no inquiry or discourse in hanging that poster.” I don’t know what that means. I’m assuming that the person who hung it up did so after making an inquiry into the nature of war, and after concluding that he or she was against war. Is it your view that doing so should be illegal?

        Illegal is much too strong, no I don’t think any political expression should be illegal. My opinion is that workplaces shouldn’t generally discourage irrelevant political activity in the workplace. So someone in the MLA couldn’t have that poster but should be free to engage government bodies in appropriate standards for footnoting reports. Outside the workplace I think everyone is entitled to engage politically including professors, they shouldn’t be able to cross over the two roles.

        Academia is about education and research. Determining what is.
        Political activism is about convincing people to hold and act on particular political opinions. That is all about what should be. So we definitely disagree.

        I don’t hire a plumber to fix my garden and I don’t hire a chemistry professor for his opinion on campaign finance reform. If I want an opinion on campaign finance reform I’ll go to a lobby a interest group and they’ll have people more knowledge about it than some chemistry professor.

        Finally “war is bad” is the sort of opinion that comes from a toddler. An academic who engaged in a study of the nature and war and had a conclusion should have something more interesting to say. Your opinions on Locke and war are a good example of what I would expect from an academic, that poster is not. But note when you gave your opinion you did so as an academic, which is proper.

        It’s amusing that you take BDS to be shutting down discourse by engaging in discourse; meanwhile, you’ve come out in favor of outright prohibitions on political advocacy. I hope it’s not rude to point out that that makes no sense.

        No it isn’t rude at all. You handled that politely, though better would be to use “if I understand you correctly”. Because you weren’t understanding me correctly. I believe in an outright prohibition on non-professional political advocacy in the workplace. Within the political realm, i.e. what people do in their free time and as hobbies I’m all for political advocacy. And in that realm BDS isn’t really much of a political group at all.

        As for your claim that BDS is a matter of professorial incitement “against” anyone, I’d need to see specific evidence.

        Let’s start with this. Assume you were having a discussion with a student X and that student were to argue with you that the Aryan Nations is just a political organization that was opposed to Zionists (they also sometimes like to use Zionist as code for Jew). The policy change they wanted from Jews was for them to stop manipulating blacks and hispanics into oppressing the white race and encouraging non race conscious whites into mongrelization through immigration.

        Now if I were in your shoes I’d argue that the Aryan Nations does stuff that typical political advocacy groups don’t do, like focus their attention on forming prison gangs and selling illegal guns and drugs. And moreover Aryan Nations doesn’t do stuff that political advocacy groups do like try and reach and change the opinions of moderates and not formulate arguments in ways so as to not unnecessarily antagonize (and thus energize) opponents. That would be the criteria I’d use.

        But you are rejecting that criteria. So let’s start with this example. What criteria would you consider valid to differentiate the Aryan Nations from an political advocacy group?

        I don’t doubt that there are bad apples among BDS advocates, and don’t doubt that lots of students are involved, but there are bad apples everywhere, and it’s obvious that more than students are involved in BDS. You’re making a very large generalizations, but you’ve provided no evidence to support it.

        I assumed you were more familiar with BDS than you were. I proposed a long list of the criteria for anti-Semitism and asserted that BDS held almost all of those views in only slightly modified form. That this would be evidence if you were familiar with their positions. Since then I’ve learned you aren’t very familiar with BDS literature. So I can’t assume the degree of familiarity and instead am trying to explain basic distinctions about what the BDS movement is and isn’t. I have to get you clear on what BDS is, and what they believe before I can even begin to talk about how what they believe and do is anti-Semitic.

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        • Let me break this down and just discuss the first topic, rudeness in relation to political discourse. My claim is that rudeness/politeness is not the essential feature of effective political discourse, and the examples I came up with were intended to prove that. None of them are essentially rude or
          polite.

          You say that the Declaration of Independence “reaches out” because it declares the causes of the separation out of a decent respect for mankind. You’re ignoring the fact that the Declaration of Independence is a denunciation of the British Crown and a declaration of war against it. The “decent respect for mankind” it speaks of is not respect for King George or his supporters but those who would join the Revolutionary cause in helping defeat the King on the battlefield. The idea of a “polite” denunciation and declaration of war is a contradiction in terms. I don’t think you’d regard it as “polite” if I wrote a blog post in which I said “The occupation has lasted a long time, and the time has come to do something about it. A decent respect for the opinions of mankind demands that I explain why. Consider a list of its injustices; now let’s declare war against Israel.”

          But saying just that is the whole purpose of the Declaration of Independence:

          The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.

          A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

          [Our British brethren] too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

          Is that your idea of politeness? It’s not a rhetorical question, because you have a rather eccentric conception of language. According to you, a declaration of war is the epitome of politeness, “Princeton Divests” is not an instance of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, and “Zionist BDS” is not an example of BDS. I realize that you’d like to interpret my disagreement as a matter of my ignorance of the “real” nature of “real” BDS, but my counter-interpretation is that you have a cherry-picking attitude toward evidence and an opportunistic one about language. To save a thesis, you’ll just redefine it so that it suits your polemical purposes, no matter how implausible the re-definition.

          The second example was Lincoln’s First Inaugural. Lincoln’s speech attempts reconciliation with the Confederates but threatens them with war if they don’t back down. Again, I think it’s a contradiction in terms to describe a threat of war as an instance of “politeness.” After some preliminaries, he offers his basic argument about government, and its conclusion is this:

          It follows from these views that no State upon its own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union; that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void, and that acts of violence within any State or States against the authority of the United States are insurrectionary or revolutionary, according to circumstances.

          This is a flat rejection of the Confederates’ argument and a denunciation of them as insurrectionary rebels. Here is the practical consequence:

          I therefore consider that in view of the Constitution and the laws the Union is unbroken, and to the extent of my ability, I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the States. Doing this I deem to be only a simple duty on my part, and I shall perform it so far as practicable unless my rightful masters, the American people, shall withhold the requisite means or in some authoritative manner direct the contrary. I trust this will not be regarded as a menace, but only as the declared purpose of the Union that it will constitutionally defend and maintain itself.

          In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to “preserve, protect, and defend it.”

          “If you proceed with your current mode of action, I will have to kill you” is not a polite thing to say, even if it’s totally justified. Imagine if I were to say: “The next time the IDF forces its way onto the premises of this university, the university’s security services will use armed force to defend its students, faculty, and staff. The matter therefore rests in their hands. But if they force their way here, we have a solemn oath in heaven to stop them, using all means within our power.” No one would regard that as “polite.”

          Now consider MLK’s Letter. It’s the most subtle of the three examples. A very superficial reading might lead you think that he’s being polite. But once he gets the niceties out of the way, his actual message is exactly the opposite of the idea that we should be polite and avoid triggering people. He comes out and says that justice can only be advanced by creating a sense of “crisis” in the minds of the unjust:

          You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

          Even King realizes that what he’s saying is shocking, not polite. But you are criticizing exactly the feature of BDS that King was defending in the civil rights movement. You want BDS to be “nice.” You come out and say that the subject matter shouldn’t dictate the form of discourse about it. Well, in that case, your views are in direct “tension” with King’s.

          You ought to keep this passage of King’s in mind before you criticize Remi Kanazi as a hater:

          We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

          And this one, too:

          I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

          I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

          Is it really “polite” to say that white moderates are (almost) as big an obstacle to civil rights than outright segregationists? Is it “polite” to want to induce “tension” in society? Is it “polite” to tell someone: your society’s injustice is comparable to a “boil” that needs the disinfectant of exposure? It isn’t. But it’s what those people deserved, and it’s what a lot of Israel’s defenders deserve.

          And that’s what the Remi Kanazi video gives them. King and Kenazi are saying the same thing in different contexts. I don’t see any “hatred” in the Kenazi video at all. If you do, you’ll have to tell me where it is. Yes, his attitude is “in your face,” but it’s well within the limits of reasonability, and the attitude is a legitimate response to the equally “in your face” character of Israel’s louder and more militant defenders.

          What he doesn’t want to “normalize” is the occupation, or the pretense that it isn’t there, and he is absolutely right to say that a great deal of “interfaith” and “roundtable” discussion is a means of evading the underlying political issues, directing attention elsewhere, and normalizing the occupation. What he says at 1:09 is a criticism of a certain kind of dialogue group, not all dialogue as such; he mentions ZOA sponsorship and tells us to look at the “Board Members.”

          I know how he feels, since I was lured into such a group myself a few years ago (Scholars for Peace in the Middle East), and had to learn the hard way that I was dealing with propagandists, and that the whole “dialogue” premise they were promoting was a big charade. When you learn things the hard way–through betrayal–you tend to feel the need to yell about it, as he does.

          I agree with him that Zionism is a real demographic threat–I’m living within sight of E1, and I can see the Bedouin community from my window that’s going to be evicted to make room for settlement activity in that zone. Unlike him, I don’t think Zionism is the only demographic threat: I would admit that Israelis justifiably fear being overtaken in their own country by a literal version of the “right of return,” so that any “right of return” has to be modified to deal with that fact. So what he’s saying about the right of return may be oversimplified and unrealistic, but it’s not an expression of hatred or anti-Semitism.

          What he does very effectively is to subvert the cliches and catch phrases of pro-Israeli propaganda. I have to admit I laughed out loud at 2:37 when he asks, “Did I hurt your feelings?” The last line of the monologue expresses a profound truth and is almost worth the time you spend on watching the whole thing. In that respect, it belongs to the same tradition as Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter, and I support it. I’m not in favor of a full-scale boycott of Israel or a full right of return, as he seems to be, but I agree with the essence of his message.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Second thing I’d like to hit on is starting to examine is: is BDS fundamentally an anti-Semitic movement or fundamentally a movement opposed to the occupation. Let me throw out 3 pieces of evidence for BDS being fundamentally anti-Semitic:

    1) It is unnaturally heated and rude when dealing with a question of policy. Your own post seems to agree with that though I believe you are blaming the wrong side. After 9/11 there was a lot less interest in discussing Bin Laden’s quite legitimate and logical points about where US policy was hypocritical, antithetical or USA aims and inhumane.

    2) BDS itself quite clearly states is not opposed to just the occupation. It demands both “right of return” and changes to law inside 1949 Israel. A situation where Israel were to retreat to 1949 lines and end the occupation would be a failure of of BDS not its success according to its own policy objectives.

    3) BDS itself incorporates most elements of classic anti-Semitism.

    • Jews are behind a plan for global conquest, — Yes they often endorse this with the focus on neo-cons
    • Jews work through Masonic lodges — Yes though they replace “Masonic lodges” with groups they hate.
    • Jews use liberalism to weaken church and state — Well they are liberals so they generally talk about Jews undermining human rights organizations.
    • Jews control the press — Yep
    • Jews work through radicals and revolutionaries — Again you need to flip flop the political orientation but this is the claim about the Iraq war.
    • Jews manipulate the economy, especially through banking monopolies and the power of gold — Yep with gold replaced by “big banks”
    • Jews encourage issuing paper currency not tied to the gold standard — Updated now concern about derivatives and so forth.
    • Jews promote financial speculation and use of credit — Yep.
    • Jews replace traditional educational curriculum to discourage independent thinking — Yep.
    • Jews encourage immorality among Christian youth — Yep where immorality is “imperialism”, “colonialism”… and not the sexual stuff that doesn’t bother leftists.
    • Jews use intellectuals to confuse people — Yep
    • Jews control “puppet” governments both through secret allies and by blackmailing elected officials — Yep
    • Jews weaken laws through liberal interpretations — Yep.
    • Jews will suspend civil liberties during an emergency and then make the measures permanent — Yep. BDSers frequently talk about how America is becoming fascist and freak out about internet security, anti-terrorism…

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    • None of those three pieces of “evidence” proves, or even begins to prove, that BDS is fundamentally an anti-Semitic movement. It’s an act of undeserved charity even to call those three points “evidence.” But I’m trying to be polite.

      1. Even if BDS were “unnaturally heated and rude,” that wouldn’t prove that it was anti-Semitic. Being “unnaturally heated and rude” would be perfectly consistent with BDS’s being overzealous, and overzealousness is a long, long way from anti-Semitism or racism of any kind.

      By the way, I’m not in fact conceding that BDS is “unnaturally heated and rude,” since I don’t know what “natural heatedness” would be, and as I’ve said before, I don’t regard politeness/rudeness as the essential standard for judging political discourse. Virtually every Prime Minister of Israel (with the possible exceptions of Levi Eshkol and Shimon Peres) has been “rude.” If rudeness were evidence of racism, we’d have to judge Israel one of the most racist countries on Earth simply on the basis of the bad manners of its Prime Ministers. Even as a critic of Israel, I wouldn’t resort to an argument form as absurd as that.

      2. I don’t think advocacy of a right of return, or advocacy of changes to Israeli law within Israel proper, is anti-Semitic. You haven’t explained why it would be.

      Taken literally, your view implies that any change to Israeli law within Israel proper is an act of anti-Semitism, which would have to imply that if the Knesset decided to ratify a peace deal tomorrow (which would change Israeli law in an obvious way), everyone voting for it would be an anti-Semite. Maybe that isn’t what you meant, but it’s an implication of what you said, and it’s proof that you’re more eager accuse people of anti-Semitism than you are worried about the collateral damage of doing so–even if the victims are Israeli.

      3. Every item in this section of what you said strikes me as classic straw man argumentation, void for vagueness as the lawyers say. I need more specifics. I can’t respond to your accusations as stated because I have no idea who said the claims you’ve put in peoples’s mouths–when, where, or how. I’ve already mentioned Princeton Divests, and none of your accusations is true of them.

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      • Your original claim was that BDS was an anti-occupation organization i.e. it wasn’t a anti-Semitic but wanted a Jewish state living in peace and security next to a Palestinian state. I was pointing out that BDS itself doesn’t claim to be merely concerned with occupation but rather has 3 goals and those 3 goals together block peaceful equality.

        I think the confusion is further manifest in your example. Princeton Divests goal is for Princeton University to divest from “companies that profit from or contribute to the military occupation of the West Bank and siege of Gaza”. Not companies that do business with Israel. Princeton Divest is an anti-occupation organization, that’s not BDS. Princeton Diverst BTW agrees with me they aren’t part of BDS at all in response to the question, “The divestment campaign at Princeton has its own specific goals and is completely independent. We do not take directions from any national or international organization.” Princeton Divest’s ideology is perfectly in line with J-Street (the liberal Jewish lobby), and their “Zionist BDS”. I don’t know Princeton Divest, but I do know J-Street. J-Street are interested in what’s best for both people’s not the destruction of one of those peoples. J-Street may be idiots but they aren’t anti-Semites. They are wrong but they aren’t evil.

        Your counter example doesn’t work. Its like saying “elephants aren’t very heavy” and pointing to a goat to prove it. I don’t know whether Princeton Divest does or does not engage in harassment activities designed to terrify and humiliate Jewish students, but given their ideology it would surprise me if they did. Zionist BDS is an alternative to BDS, it is an anti-BDS movement not a pro-BDS movement in that it has entirely different goals. If you want to talk about BDS the definition is given by the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) at http://www.bdsmovement.net. You want to talk BDS organizations you need to be addressing organizations that support BDS, not organizations that are opposed to the occupation. You want to pick an example of real campus BDS movement, near you, Rutgers has an active one.

        ____

        As far as overzealous. That doesn’t explain anything that just offers a synonym for rude. Why would they be overzealous? Excluding the Palestinians and the JVPers, what induces all this passion? Why isn’t this just a normal tribal war where the students might object to one side but mostly be indifferent. The heat needs to be explained. The natural level of heatedness would be the level in keeping with most minor tribal disputes in most foreign countries. For example there is a serious crisis going on right now between Greece and Germany, what level of heat exists in USA discourse on that topic? When the Croats and the Slovaks split what was the level of heat in the USA? What’s the level of heat in the USA when American AQAP supporters debate Houthi debate Al-Hadi supporters? That’s the natural level of heat for a foreign policy issue. Mostly total indifference.

        Heat beyond that level deserves an explanation.

        As for Israelis being rude, I’ve been there. It is a ridiculous stereotype based on the “Jews are pushy” meme. In point of fact, Palestinians (who were not terribly rude either) are generally ruder to me than Jews were the entire time I was there. Neither one of them compare to BDSers. BDSers on the other hand are I think the most hateful group I’ve ever met. Mind you I’ve chatted with Christian Identity and Kinists who openly support the loss of citizenship for Jewish Americans and they manage to be more respectful and calm than BDSers when addressing Jews. You need to think about the why here in terms of the emotion.

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        • You say, characterizing my views:

          Your original claim was that BDS was an anti-occupation organization i.e. it wasn’t a anti-Semitic but wanted a Jewish state living in peace and security next to a Palestinian state. I was pointing out that BDS itself doesn’t claim to be merely concerned with occupation but rather has 3 goals and those 3 goals together block peaceful equality.

          Can you find me where I made the claim you’re attributing to me? Where did I say that BDS wants a Jewish state next to a Palestinian one? Don’t gesture. Don’t paraphrase. Find the actual passage where I say that, cut and paste it, and tell me where you got it from.

          You’ve just asserted over and over that I am confused about BDS because I don’t accept your characterization of it. BDS is a broad movement. It’s not reducible to the goals of any one person or organization, and it doesn’t take marching orders from some Central Command. That’s the picture of BDS that you seem to have. I’ve said that Princeton Divests is my model for a BDS program, and your response to that is that I’m confused because its goals are narrower than your conception of BDS and you can’t find any evidence of anti-Semitism within it. Actually, what that proves is that your conception of BDS is too narrow and involved a prejudicial assumption that anti-Semitism must be present there whether you have actual evidence of it in any given case or not. You’re not entitled to define BDS as that part of the movement that happens to fit your definition. Sorry.

          Here is the full quotation from Princeton Divests. You’ve conveniently managed to omit the sentence that flatly contradicts your interpretation of what their organization is about:

          What does this have to do with BDS? Wait, what is BDS?
          In 2005, over 100 Palestinian organizations issued a call to the international community to use the nonviolent tactics of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions to put economic pressure on Israel to comply with international human rights law, citing the successful use of these tactics by the international community to pressure the South African government to end apartheid as precedent. In 1985, after nearly 20 years of student pressure, Princeton proudly participated in the divestment movement by pulling its investments from several companies that profited from South African apartheid.

          BDS is a set of tactics, not a monolithic entity or organization. The divestment campaign at Princeton has its own specific goals and is completely independent. We do not take directions from any national or international organization.

          Contrary to your re-interpretation of their description of themselves, they are saying that they are a BDS organization. That is the whole point of the (whole) passage. They’re saying that they are independent of any particular organiation, but part of the broad movement. That’s what I’ve been saying, too. If you have an honest reason for omitting the first sentence in the second paragraph that begins with “BDS,” I would really love to hear it, but offhand I can’t think of one. The most obvious reason for omitting is that it flatly contradicts what you’re saying, and if you omit it, the second sentence sounds as though it’s saying that Princeton Divests is independent of BDS, when that’s the opposite of what it’s saying.

          On the same subject: AMCHA regards Princeton Divests as a BDS organization and has branded them anti-Semitic for that reason. Arutz Sheva uses the same description: Princeton votes against BDS. CAMERA assigns the tag “BDS” to discussion of Princeton Divests. Wikipedia puts things this way: “There is considerable debate about the scope, efficacy, and morality of the BDS movement.” That’s not compatible with your narrow, reductive understanding of BDS.

          It doesn’t help your case to come and say, “I don’t know Princeton Divest[s]…” You admit that you don’t know the organization, but you know it can’t be BDS. Apparently, as far as you’re concerned, ignorance is knowledge.

          The only “argument” you’ve offered is to insist over and over that Omar Barghouti’s version of BDS is the only version you’re going to call “BDS,” even if other people refer to other things by that name, including members of the movement and their opponents. I think a more commonsense view of the matter is that an organization qualifies as being part of the BDS movement as long as it subscribes to a recognizably liberal conception of equal liberty, takes issue with Israel’s violations of equal liberty, and seeks to impose either boycott, divestment, or sanctions on Israel to express condemnation and/or exert pressure for policy change. Nothing about that is inherently anti-Semitic, and in a week of very long comments, you haven’t progressed a millimeter toward showing that it does. You also haven’t addressed the specifics of my claims about politeness and rudeness, but have ignored the actual passages I came up with and changed the subject.

          Moving to overzealousness: people can get overzealous when they get dogmatic and carried away by their emotions. That’s a common feature of the sociology of all political movements, and you don’t need to appeal to racism or anti-Semitism to explain it.

          What you’re really trying to ask–between insinuations of anti-Semitism–is why people get heated up by the Palestinian cause in the first place. The answer is complex, but it involves the following: Israel is a sectarian state that’s imposed a 48 year long occupation on the Palestinians. As a sectarian state, it violates Americans’ commitment to the values of the First Amendment. As a state imposing a military occupation, it systematically violates people’s rights and thereby violates the values of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Further, it does this by demanding and receiving enormous amounts of U.S. aid and support. Though other countries with bad human rights records get a lot of aid, most of them are subject to sanctions of some kind for their misbehavior, Pakistan and Egypt being notable examples. Israel is not. Israel gets away with human rights violations without any push back by the government that props it up. Further, its rights violations are reminiscent of past American rights violations, e.g., the expropriation of Native Americans and Jim Crow. It’s a particular imperative for Americans not to support the very injustices that our own nation has committed in the past.

          Finally, there’s a path-dependency involved in getting involved in the Palestinian cause. Once you start, the complexity of the issues hooks you, and it becomes hard to stop; it’s not a dispute that you can engage in by halves. Many defenders of Palestinian rights grew up with the cause and continued with it over decades–something equally true of Israel’s defenders. (You don’t stop to ask why there is pro-Israel heat, though the same question would apply to it as to pro-Palestinian heat.) Once you get involved in a decades-long cause, the potential for heat is there. In that respect, Israel/Palestine is no different from the gun rights cause, or the abortion cause, or the environment, or capital punishment, etc. Why do people care more about the environment than about Greece and Germany? The answer doesn’t make essential reference to racism.

          If heat deserves an explanation, I’ve given one.

          I didn’t say that Israelis were rude. I referred to Israeli Prime Ministers who were, and some who weren’t. Would you regard Menachem Begin as polite in political contexts? Ben Gurion? Naturally, you’ve not only misrepresented what I said, you’ve ignored my point in saying it–which was that rudeness is not necessarily evidence of racism.

          It gets tedious having a conversation with a person who lectures you about “politeness,” then misrepresents your claims in obvious, brazen ways. You need to think about why it is that you can’t deal with arguments as they’re actually stated, but have to change them into something else in order to respond to claims that your interlocutor hasn’t asserted.

          Incidentally, you’ve unceremoniously dropped your claim that it’s anti-Semitic to want to change the laws of the State of Israel (“changes to law inside 1949 Israel”). I pointed out that that would imply that the Knesset’s ratifying a peace deal or ending the occupation would be an act of anti-Semitism. What’s your answer? If I went by your rules–a week in a round on the Internet ain’t pushing things–I’d have to conclude that you don’t have an answer. But I don’t go by your rules. That’s why I’m asking.

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          • I forgot to add one last thing: Though I don’t think that one has to sign on to Barghouti’s version of BDS to be part of the BDS movement, I don’t want to leave the impression that I regard Barghouti’s BDS as anti-Semitic, either. You haven’t come up with any argument for why it should be regarded that way.

            This is what he says, in his own words:

            The campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is shaped by a rights-based approach and highlights the three broad sections of the Palestinian people: the refugees, those under military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Palestinians in Israel. The call urges various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law by:

            Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall;
            Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
            Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.
            The BDS call was endorsed by over 170 Palestinian political parties, organizations, trade unions and movements. The signatories represent the refugees, Palestinians in the OPT, and Palestinian citizens of Israel.

            – See more at: http://www.bdsmovement.net/bdsintro#sthash.ZBsgYyqx.dpuf

            I have reservations about the usual conception of the right of return, and I think the meaning of UN Resolution 194 is either problematic or ambiguous. So I personally can’t sign on to the third element of Barghouti’s platform, but I don’t regard it as inherently anti-Semitic, and have not been convinced by anything you’ve said that it is.

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  6. Pingback: Thinking about BDS (3): Borne on the Fourth of July | Policy of Truth

  7. @Ifran

    I’m responding to your July 5, 2015 at 5:01 am but I’m outdenting since there isn’t a reply.

    I think you are getting confused on two axises when it comes to rudeness.

    1) Rudeness vs. forcefulness. The harshness of the proposal vs. the harshness of the presentation.

    2) Rudeness towards the subject of discussion vs. rudeness towards the people being addressed

    To be rude is to present something roughly, lacking subtly and sophistication, to be discourteous. To be unpleasant or harsh in presentation. It is has very little to do with the content of the message. Now obviously an unpleasant subject matter makes being polite more difficult and a pleasant subject matter makes it easier to be polite. But that’s not a controlling features.

    My Abrams I regret to inform you your mother passed away last night in her sleep” is said politely even though the subject matter is negative while

    Hey asshole here is the $1000 check I owe you. No go shove it where the sun don’t shine” is said rudely even though the subject matter is positive.

    Once we introduce multiple subjects the tie with subject matter gets even less direct. Suppose Mr X says, “Mr. Bentley I have come to dislike my wife very much, believe I made a mistake in marrying her, and would like to engage your services as my attorney to get a divorce.” That statement is perfectly polite, X is being polite towards Bentley. Now X is being forceful towards his wife and he being a bit disrespectful / rude but he is not acting that way towards Bentley. BDSers are not rude towards Israelis, they mostly don’t know any Israelis. They are being rude towards Americans.

    If BDS organizations were to advocate for war with Israel politely (which incidentally many of them do, without realizing it) they would still be polite. If they were to advocate for just limited sanctions but do so rudely they still be rude. The degree of force of the action to be taken and the way it expressed are unrelated.

    Your discussion of the 3 examples constantly conflates both the persons being addressed and the persons being discussed as well as the harshness of the proposed solution vs. the harshness the presentation.

    Two more points.

    The first is King’s presentation and King’s technique. The 50’s civil rights movement was often rude. Especially in the south where being not-nice to someone’s face is considered just short of a violent attack it went well beyond what was acceptable. The purpose of that was to unmask the naked violence which underlying jim crow. People of good will understood that and because the injustice was so great they were able to rally others to their cause. What commensurate great injustice to Palestinian supporters in the United States suffer from? How is Zionism in the United States making use of violence in the United States to achieve its aims? If your theory is that the rudeness is similar to the civil rights movement, what purpose does it serve? I can certainly imagine an Israeli-Arab civil rights movement in Israel being rude, just as the Mizrahi civil rights movement was rude, but that’s a different thing from the behavior of BDS in America.

    Secondly BDS goes well beyond the rudeness of the American Civil Rights movement. No black leader including the black separatists, ever argued for anything like denormalization with respect to whites. Non-communication is part of American tradition it is used by religious groups to shun it is a sign of profound disrespect and hatred. Shunning is never applied group to group because everybody sane realizes the alternative to communication is violence. For example the first thing black community leaders in poor neighborhoods do when other ethnicities move into the neighborhood to create channels of communication both at the community leader level and at the gang level. Because unless you want violence talking is better than shooting.

    Your King quote puts his emphasis beautifully. King is looking for negotiation not foreclosing the possibility of negotiations because even the concept of dialogue with whites would constitute “normalization”. Remi Kanazi’s goal is not negotiation. He openly despises negotiation. His method is to antagonize American Jews (especially college students) with events meant to humiliate and anger. There is no desire for negotiation. I don’t see any similarity between that and King’s position.

    A much fairer read is that Kanazi trying to induce a violent response. What a terrorist classically does is commit petty acts of violence to create police repression and thus hopefully galvanize their community against the government. Kanazi is trying to induce repression and thus galvanize people moderately opposed to the occupation towards full fledges anti-Semitism. King spent his life opposing Kanazi type tactics by other black leaders, not supporting them though even those pro-terrorism leaders wanted negotiations with police and political bodies.

    King and Kenazi are saying the same thing in different contexts. I don’t see any “hatred” in the Kenazi video at all. If you do, you’ll have to tell me where it is.

    Take for example the 7th line “No, I don’t want to normalize with you
    I don’t want to hug, have coffee, talk it out, break bread, sit around the campfire, eat s’mores and gush about how we’re all the same

    That’s pretty explicit adoption of the doctrine of Jud Süß: that Jews are a pollution to culture and incapable of being a part of it. Do not engage socially with Jews. Do not eat with Jews. How is it possible to be any more hateful than that? You have not just figurative dehumanizing but literal explicit unequivocal dehumanizing and you are comparing that to King? King never said anything remotely like that about whites. Not only did Martin Luther King believe that whites were humans he believed they were fundamentally good humans

    King has famous quote says the exact opposite of Kenazi:
    I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.

    or
    We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

    His goal is brotherhood. Kanazi is appalled that people would eat or engage in friendly discourse with Jews. I’m not sure what to say if you can’t see the hatred in Jud Süß.

    Or this one from the poem

    Have a therapy session, on two sides with equal grievances

    Before talking about how hateful this is let me just start by pointing out how stupid this argument is. Mexico and the United States aren’t equal but that doesn’t mean the United States doesn’t dialogue with Mexico when they have a disagreement.

    This is happening in America. The two sides are American Jews and (?) it isn’t even clear who the opposition is. I think the opposition is meant to be non-Jews, it might be liberals it might be Arabs, it might be Palestinians. There is another theme there of Jews as the eternal other but it is vague so I’ll only note it in passing.

    So let’s get the claim. USA Jews (and Israeli Jews also) have a long history of oppression. Most USA Jews have 1400 years of political oppression and a dozen or so exterminations in their background. We beat Kanazi with his one expulsion on grievances. Kanazi knows Jewish history at leas this much. He’s taunting Jews on deeply painful memories. Sort of like taunting a rape victim about a rape. Again it would be hard to be more hateful than he is in this poem. Other than a white racist who would mock American blacks about slavery? Other than a racist who would mock the Chinese about the Japanese occupation?

    Palestinians aren’t remotely close to having suffered what Jews have. Most American Jews come from holocaust family. More people died every day in any one of the 3 main death camps than Palestinians have died in the entire conflict with Israel. And for those of us that don’t, like me, there were pogroms and mass deliberate starvations. And even if you want to limit this to Arabs, Arabs 2 generations ago ethnically cleansed twice as many Jews as the Jews cleansed Palestinians and that was after 1400 years of oppression.

    Moreover even if one were to limit this to just Israel / Palestine the claim is not that the grievance is equal but rather the claim is that it is symmetric.
    — The Israelis would like the Palestinians in greater Israel to stop trying to destroy the country in which they live and instead become productive members of the actually existent society and stop pining for a country that never existed.
    — The Palestinians would like the Israelis to stop being mean to them and view them as countrymen or neighbors.

    In any dialogue aiming at resolution of the conflict, peace and coexistence this and other symmetric grievances need to be dealt with.

    What he doesn’t want to “normalize” is the occupation, or the pretense that it isn’t there, and he is absolutely right to say that a great deal of “interfaith” and “roundtable” discussion is a means of evading the underlying political issues, directing attention elsewhere, and normalizing the occupation. What he says at 1:09 is a criticism of a certain kind of dialogue group, not all dialogue as such; he mentions ZOA sponsorship and tells us to look at the “Board Members.”

    Two things.

    1) ZOA is a major party in the World Zionist Congress and likely to get the most seats of any non-denomination group from America. If you want to talk Israeli policy regarding the occupation with American Jews, ZOA would be one of the groups most knowledge, interested and influential to talk to. And if you want to talk strictly about American policy, ZOA is essentially the same people who are in AIPAC. Why wouldn’t you want to dialogue with ZOA? That’s the other side to the conflict. When you dialogue about an issue it is a plus not a minus if the other side has enough juice to change things if you were to convince them and thus they became so inclined. No one in America likes Khamenei, but if we want to talk about Iranian nukes his guys are who we have to dialogue with.

    Moreover why wouldn’t you expect liberal Jews to have ties to their right the same way that liberal Americans have ties to the Republican party? Of course they have ties! How is that even a surprise?

    2) I’m genuinely not even understanding your point. What does “normalizing the occupation” even mean? How does one distinguish a non-normalized occupation from a normalized one? What advantages are there in the non-normalized occupation over the normalized one? Etc…

    I know how he feels, since I was lured into such a group myself a few years ago (Scholars for Peace in the Middle East), and had to learn the hard way that I was dealing with propagandists, and that the whole “dialogue” premise they were promoting was a big charade.

    Charade of what? What are you talking about? The other side weren’t scholars? The other side weren’t Jews? What does propagandist even mean: they don’t agree with you on everything and sometimes agreed with the Israeli government? I honestly don’t know what you are talking about but I have a lot of trouble believing you fell victim to some Jewish liberal charade. So its hard to even try and respond.

    Liberals in the USA may have objected to enhanced interrogation, and the Iraqi occupation but in the end they love America. It is not a charade to stand against torture and want to see America defeat Al-Qaeda. Liberal Zionists genuinely want a more humane policy towards the Palestinians, that’s not a charade. Lots of people, myself included, believe it is possible to be more humane in aspects of handling the Palestinian problem than Israel has been. Heck Naftali Bennett says that frequently and gives examples. It is not a charade to want to work towards making Israel as humane as possible while still achieving its purpose.

    Unlike him, I don’t think Zionism is the only demographic threat: I would admit that Israelis justifiably fear being overtaken in their own country by a literal version of the “right of return,” so that any “right of return” has to be modified to deal with that fact. So what he’s saying about the right of return may be oversimplified and unrealistic, but it’s not an expression of hatred or anti-Semitism.

    I actually think it is anti-Semitism. The Wandering Jew motif is the belief that Jews should never have peace and a home but instead forever wonder from place to place as punishment for the crucifixion is claasic anti-Semitism. A modern politics that the French are entitled to self determination in France, Chinese are entitled to self determination in China and the British self determination in the UK while not holding that Jews are entitled to self determination in Israel is usually going to boil down to Wandering Jew ethnic hatred. Wagner in his Kundry character provides the tie between the classic medieval version and the later Nazi version that Kanazi et al. advocate for. I would agree that there are people who believe that Israel should be a state of all its inhabitants who don’t come from a place of hating Jews. They love all people and want all people to be at peace. Kanazi just isn’t one of them.

    _____

    Kanazi’s hatred and contempt come through every line of that poem, other poems and his twitter feed. I have to say I’m kinda at a loss that you can’t hear race hatred in that extreme a case. My points about the distinction regarding King and Kanazi, how they preached precisely the opposite I think are obvious to you. The whole message of Kanazi is dehumanization, no human or interaction or discourse with Jews under any circumstances. That’s what Jews are objecting to. Der Stürmer’s slogan was “Die Juden sind unser Unglück!” (“The Jews are our misfortune!”). Kanazi’s poem is an apology for that theme. Kanazi in this example defends the very beliefs of anti-Semitism. Those beliefs are the definition. If you are simply unwilling to see openly expressed Jew hatred as Jew hatred then you are going to believe that Jews are lying when they complain about Jew hatred on their campus from BDS. I don’t know what to do about that. You are just redefining the word.

    In your Princeton example you gave an example of a BDS group that specifically states on their website they aren’t a BDS group because they don’t meet the definition. I pointed you towards the definition of a BDS group from the BDS national organization. Based on that you have accused me of “cherry picking” because I’m not willing to classify an orange as a banana. Kanazi is real BDS. Kanazi like BDS preaches open Jew hater and is proud of it. Yeah he’s “in your face” with how much he hates Jews and Israel.

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    • Well it appears you don’t have a response. So there you go. To summarize.

      BDS shares far more characteristics in common with hate groups than with political / human rights groups. That’s why it gets classified as a hate group and that’s why it often gets treated like one. Students who are agitating are asking that the protections accorded individuals who are being victimized by hate groups be granted to them. If BDS wants to stop being treated like a hate group and start being treated like a political group they need to stop acting like a hate group. The fact that other people in foreign countries do stuff they don’t like does not give them sanction to be rude, hateful or violent to Americans.

      Like

      • Does it appear that I “don’t have a response,” or does it appear that I haven’t yet responded? There’s a big difference between those things. As in so many cases, you’ve helped yourself to the conclusion that seems to favor your view without making the effort of arguing for it.

        It appears to me that when faced with evidence you don’t know how to process, you jump to very sweeping, polemically convenient conclusions and then declare yourself the victor on the battlefield. Like many would-be critics of BDS, that’s one art you’ve really mastered. It’ll take awhile to explain how bad your arguments are, but here’s my word that I’ll make an effort to explain it when I get a chance.

        Could you give me a “polite” explanation why I’m obliged to hurry a response on a post that I wrote more than a month ago? And explain how you’ve reached the conclusion that I don’t have one?

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    • The first part of what you say here proves my original point–that rudeness/politeness is not the essential or relevant feature of political discourse. On your view, this is a polite thing to say:

      “Dear Madam: It is my fervent wish to rape you. My sincere preference is to do this with your assent, but if I cannot have your assent, I will have to proceed without it. Thank you kindly for your consideration. Your humble servant, Mr. Rapist.”

      Harsh proposal, etiquette-based presentation: no rudeness.

      Meanwhile, if a police officer faces an armed suspect and says: “Drop the fucking gun NOW!” he’s being rude.

      That’s what your definitions imply. I don’t accept them, but let that go. Even if we accept them, they’re irrelevant. They bypass the relevant issue in both cases. The first statement, though “polite,” is immoral. The second statement, though “rude,” is justified. My point from the beginning has been that rudeness/politeness is irrelevant; the relevant issue is moral justification or not.

      You keep saying I’ve “conflated” this or that, but you don’t happen to mention what I’ve conflated with what, and you’ve adduced a whole bunch of examples that have nothing to do with the ones that were under discussion and prove nothing in particular except your insistence on belaboring a trivial and irrelevant issue at great length.

      Since you admit that by your standards, the Civil Rights movement was rude, and regard the Civil Rights movement as justified, as a matter of general principle you regard rudeness as justified in political discourse. That contradicts your original rejection of rudeness. It also contradicts your claim that matters of rudeness/politeness should be decoupled from the content of what one is discussing. I don’t see the point of conceding that the Civil Rights movement was rude and insisting that MLK’s letter was polite. The first concession concedes everything I was looking for. The second insistence just contradicts the concession. I should add that you’ve done literally nothing to respond to what I said about the Declaration and Lincoln’s speech.

      Your real point is that rudeness is not justified when defending Palestinian rights. This is your idea of a justification for that ad hoc claim:

      What commensurate great injustice to Palestinian supporters in the United States suffer from?

      The primary injustice in question is one suffered by Palestinians in the Palestinian territories, not by their supporters in the U.S. The rudeness, if any, is rudeness expressed in response to that injustice by supporters of Palestinian rights around the world. That said, it is an injustice to be on the receiving end of irresponsible accusations of anti-Semitism, especially when they come from people who start their accusations by lecturing others about the virtues of politeness in political discourse.

      Your claims about the Kenazi video are all confabulations–lurid confabulations that totally contradict your supposed insistence on politeness, and your own claim that the subject matter should never dictate how we speak about things. But the essential point is that you’re confabulating in public.

      He says nothing in the video to reject negotiations. You can be against a certain kind of meeting or discussion, and be in favor of others. He’s against meetings that bypass political issues in favor of a general sort of uplift.

      Kenazi does not say or imply a word about friendly discourse with Jews. The comment about S’mores is a parody of the warm-fuzzy good times that people have around a campfire singing “Kumbaya,” and his point is that such discussion of the Israel-Palestine dispute, though common, is unacceptable. The sentence has to be understood as a whole unit. You can’t take a phrase from the middle (“break bread”), ignore the rest, free associate a connection to the Nazis based on one phrase, and then declare that Kenazi is a Nazi. You might as well ignore the first syllable of his name and declare him a Nazi.

      I think it’s sad that you regard mass death as a kind of competition in which, if your team has suffered more over millenia, you get a free pass on inflicting suffering on another team. But the bottom line is, even if the Jews win the Knightwish Suffering Derby hands down, that wouldn’t justify injustices against the Palestinians.

      I don’t agree with Kenazi’s denial of grievances on both sides. What I deny is that his position is anti-Semitic. Being mistaken is not the same as being anti-Semitic. Anyway, his claim is that the grievances aren’t equal, and I agree with that. As far as this generation is concerned, the grievances of the Palestinians outweigh those of the Israelis. It’s Israelis who have been occupying Palestinians for 48 years, not vice versa.

      As a private individual, there is no reason why Kenazi should want to sit down and discuss anything with the ZOA. If he were a diplomat, he’d be forced to negotiate with whoever was on the other side. There is no inconsistency involved in saying that as a private individual, you wouldn’t deal with the leaders of the ZOA, but you’re in favor of negotiations in which diplomats–whose job is to deal with anyone–work things out in negotiations.

      “Not normalizing” the occupation means treating it as an injustice rather than acquiescing in that injustice and trying to placate its architects and enforcers.

      I expected that after the whole pointless song and dance about “politeness,” you’d finally get around to accusing me of anti-Semitism, and you have. I haven’t said anything about Wandering Jews. I haven’t mentioned the Crucifixion (and don’t believe in it–or any in other theological tenet). I don’t know the Wagner piece you’re referring to. I just don’t accept the legitimacy of sectarian states, be they Jewish or Islamic, Israel or Pakistan. I reject the legitimacy of the state of Pakistan. I don’t think the Pakistanis need a homeland of their own. Their home is India. I say that despite the fact that my (Muslim) family was expropriated and expelled at gunpoint from India by anti-Muslim Sikhs. If it weren’t for Pakistan, they might well have been killed and I might never have been born. But that doesn’t change the essential issue. The essential issue is that India shouldn’t have been partitioned along sectarian lines. The same thing is true of Mandate Palestine. I came to the Israel-Palestine dispute via the Pakistan-India dispute and regard them as very similar. But anti-Semitism only comes up when I apply my views to Israel/Palestine. It comes from people like you, who are better at leveling accusations than substantiating them, and better at defamation than argument.

      I don’t hear the anti-Semitism in the Kenazi video because I don’t think any is there. But I can see why if you regard his views as definitory of anti-Semitism, you’ll see it everywhere you encounter uncompromising defenders of Palestinian rights. Like me.

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      • Re SPME: I gave a paper at one of their conferences criticizing the views of Edward Said. It was later published in Israel Affairs. They postured as even-handed, peace-loving sorts, but like so many defenders of Israel, when push came to shove, they were willing to play the anti-Semitism card at will. When they backed Jeffrey Wiesenfeld’s campaign to deny Tony Kushner an honorary degree in the spring of 2011, and insinuated that Kushner was an anti-Semite, I reached the end of my patience with them. The attacks on Tony Judt and Mearsheimer and Walt were bad enough (2007-2010). With the attack on Kushner, I got off their mailing list, blocked them from email, and refused to have anything to do with them again. I’m not the only member who felt that way.

        SPME is exactly the sort of organization to which Kenazi’s bitter comments apply. No S’mores around the campfire with SPME. Lesson learned.

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  8. @Ifran —
    You aren’t obligated to do anything. But this is the internet and a week between rounds ain’t rushing or anything like it. You want to respond, respond. As for the rest don’t complain about sweeping conclusions, generalizations etc… while writing a post like the above.

    Like

    • To re-ask the question I asked but that you haven’t answered: how did you reach the conclusion that I don’t have an answer? The question still lacks an answer.

      The main post on the blog says I’m traveling and will be late responding to posts, and a passage on the “About the Blog” page asks readers’ patience because I sometimes take awhile getting back to them because I have a heavy schedule. I’m also involved in another exchange on a totally different topic. So “this is the internet” really has nothing to do with anything. I know it’s the internet, but that doesn’t change my schedule.

      Since we’re counting days between rounds, could you manage to get my name right at this point? For a guy who opened this discussion lecturing me about “politeness,” you certainly have made a quick descent.

      Just for the record, I see that you think I’ve made “sweeping conclusions” and over-generalizations, but you haven’t actually identified any.

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  9. @Irfan

    The first part of what you say here proves my original point–that rudeness/politeness is not the essential or relevant feature of political discourse.

    Essentially and relevant are not the same thing. The overwhelming majority of political discourse is polite. It is polite because that sort of discourse is more effectual. It is quite relevant. The question is one that is probabilistic. The overwhelming majority of quasi-political discourse that is rude is directed at establishing an in-culture / out-culture identification not communicating not achieving positive political aims. Evidence is establishing factors that increase or lesson the probability that something is true. Once it is established that BDS discourse is unnecessarily rude that vastly diminishes the probability that it is political discourse.

    There needs to be an explanation as to why BDS is as rude as it is, otherwise the most likely explanation is that the critics are right, being rude is the point the political message is secondary.

    I don’t accept them, but let that go. Even if we accept them, they’re irrelevant. They bypass the relevant issue in both cases. The first statement, though “polite,” is immoral. The second statement, though “rude,” is justified. My point from the beginning has been that rudeness/politeness is irrelevant; the relevant issue is moral justification or not.

    You are forgetting the argument. Your argument was whether BDS is a hate group or a political group. Not whether the underlying cause is justified or not. The south during reconstruction was justified in opposing the northern occupation, but the 1st klan was still a hate group towards the southern blacks.

    You keep saying I’ve “conflated” this or that, but you don’t happen to mention what I’ve conflated with what,

    I think I was pretty clear on the 2 conflations, “ Your discussion of the 3 examples constantly conflates both the persons being addressed and the persons being discussed as well as the harshness of the proposed solution vs. the harshness the presentation.

    Since you admit that by your standards, the Civil Rights movement was rude, and regard the Civil Rights movement as justified, as a matter of general principle you regard rudeness as justified in political discourse.

    In some instances a justified political cause can be rude, that’s all I’ve agreed to.

    That contradicts your original rejection of rudeness.

    No it doesn’t. I’ve asserted that BDS is unnecessarily rude while being willing to classify the civil rights movement as likely justifiably rude. There is no contradiction. Rudeness is likely political violence political violence is justified to right a greater wrong if the non-violent solution is substantially less effective. Both of those conditions need to apply.

    I should add that you’ve done literally nothing to respond to what I said about the Declaration and Lincoln’s speech.

    Again not true
    OK here we disagree. Let’s take the first inaugural. The whole tone is one of attempting reconciliation toward the seceded states. There is no hint of demonization or applying double standards anywhere in it.

    And
    The declaration of independence in its very first sentence reaches out…

    That said, it is an injustice to be on the receiving end of irresponsible accusations of anti-Semitism, especially when they come from people who start their accusations by lecturing others about the virtues of politeness in political discourse.

    There is nothing unjustified about a hate group being classified as such.

    Your claims about the Kenazi video .. He says nothing in the video to reject negotiations.

    Of course he does. “ I don’t want to talk it out .. on two sides with equal grievances … You’re either with oppression, or you’re against it” That’s total rejection of negotiations quite explicitly.

    You can be against a certain kind of meeting or discussion, and be in favor of others. He’s against meetings that bypass political issues in favor of a general sort of uplift.

    He doesn’t say that. His position is quite clear.

    Kenazi does not say or imply a word about friendly discourse with Jews.

    Reread your line above about bypassing political issues. What do you think friendly discourse is?

    You can’t take a phrase from the middle (“break bread”), ignore the rest, free associate a connection to the Nazis based on one phrase, and then declare that Kenazi is a Nazi.

    I didn’t ignore the connection I took his text and applied it as written. His words aare an attack on Jewish / non-Jewish discourse. Let’s take a definition of denormalization

    — any project with Israelis that is not based on a resistance framework serves to normalize relations… Doing otherwise allows for everyday, ordinary relations to exist alongside and independent of the continuous crimes being committed by Israel against the Palestinian people… The normalization of Israel – normalizing the abnormal – is a malicious and subversive process that works to cover up injustice and colonize the most intimate parts of the oppressed: their mind. To engage in or with organizations that serve this purpose is, therefore, one of the prime targets of boycott, and an act that BDS supporters must confront together.

    http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1749

    Which is precisely the definition the Nazis used. The Nazis wanted to avoid normal relations between Jews and gentiles so for example they had Namensänderungsverordnung which meant that Jews had to have names which identified them as Jews so that Aryans wouldn’t accidentally normalize with them. The Nazis were worried that contact with Jews spread Jewish pollution to the minds of Aryans and thus it was essential to limit and confine all social discourse.

    Kanazi gets accused of preaching Nazis because he is preaching Nazism. “The internal expurgation of the Zionist spirit is not possible in any platonic way. For the Zionist spirit is the product of the Israeli. Unless we expel the Jewish people soon, they will have zionized our people within a very short time.” (Adolf Hitler, Nuremberg speech January 13, 1923 with the word Zionist substitute in for Jew).

    I don’t agree with Kenazi’s denial of grievances on both sides. What I deny is that his position is anti-Semitic. Being mistaken is not the same as being anti-Semitic. Anyway, his claim is that the grievances aren’t equal, and I agree with that. As far as this generation is concerned, the grievances of the Palestinians outweigh those of the Israelis. It’s Israelis who have been occupying Palestinians for 48 years, not vice versa.

    He said nothing about this generation or limiting it to those two groups. You are just creating a context you agree with and ignoring Kanazi’s actual text.

    As a private individual, there is no reason why Kenazi should want to sit down and discuss anything with the ZOA. If he were a diplomat, he’d be forced to negotiate with whoever was on the other side. There is no inconsistency involved in saying that as a private individual, you wouldn’t deal with the leaders of the ZOA, but you’re in favor of negotiations in which diplomats–whose job is to deal with anyone–work things out in negotiations.

    Kanzai is not speaking as a private individual, he’s speaking as a leading voice in the BDS movement. Moreover he’s been opposed to other Muslim groups engaging in negotiations, accusing them of breaking ranks whenever they dialogue. You keep trying to rewrite his position. His position is clear. No negotiations with Jews, period. Jews are to be battered into submission, not talked to.

    “Not normalizing” the occupation means treating it as an injustice rather than acquiescing in that injustice and trying to placate its architects and enforcers.

    That doesn’t mean anything. I just gave you a specific definition from BDS. It has nothing to do with placation of injustice it has to do with normal social intercourse.

    I just don’t accept the legitimacy of sectarian states, be they Jewish or Islamic, Israel or Pakistan.

    What does that have to do with BDS which does accept the legitimacy of Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist sectarian states and rejects the legitimacy of Jewish sectarian states? Your position rejecting all sectarianism is simply another viewpoint that has nothing to do with BDS.

    I came to the Israel-Palestine dispute via the Pakistan-India dispute and regard them as very similar. But anti-Semitism only comes up when I apply my views to Israel/Palestine. It comes from people like you, who are better at leveling accusations than substantiating them, and better at defamation than argument.

    The one presenting evidence is me. The one throwing around personal attacks is you. I think you should reread the number of personal attacks in your post. You are being obnoxious.

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  10. Can you find me where I made the claim you’re attributing to me? Where did I say that BDS wants a Jewish state next to a Palestinian one? Don’t gesture. Don’t paraphrase. Find the actual passage where I say that, cut and paste it, and tell me where you got it from.

    All over your blog. Let’s just take this post:

    — I don’t mean to be pronouncing on the correctness or incorrectness of BDS as a strategy for dealing with the Israeli occupation.

    — but I’m also uncompromisingly opposed to the Israeli occupation/settlement enterprise,and frankly have lost patience with views of a sort that permit opposition to the occupation but proscribe doing anything about it.

    — Israel is a sectarian state that’s imposed a 48 year long occupation on the Palestinians.

    — The subject matter in this case is Israel’s military occupation and settlement enterprise.

    — What he doesn’t want to “normalize” is the occupation,

    Etc… Your position is that BDS is about the occupation. You constantly make comments which say that is the subject. In reality BDS is not merely about the occupation. It opposes Jewish self determination anywhere. In the territories it aims to achieve the loss of Jewish self determination via. massive ethnic cleansing. In Israel proper it aims to achieve the loss of Jewish self determination via. a mass migration flooding the country with a foreign population plus forcing the state not to defend itself against this invasion.

    Contrary to your re-interpretation of their description of themselves, [what Princeton Divest} are saying that they are a BDS organization. That is the whole point of the (whole) passage.

    Not they aren’t. They in the 1st paragraph identify BDS with the goals of the 2005 declaration. Princeton Divest rejects the 2005 declaration and has their own goals. Of course they claim to be part of a broad movement. They are part of a broad movement. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are also anti-occupation groups. None of those groups are part of BDS. https://electronicintifada.net/content/recognizing-palestine-bds-and-survival-israel/14123

    On the same subject: AMCHA regards Princeton Divests as a BDS organization and has branded them anti-Semitic for that reason.

    I don’t see that claim in your link. I see a list of activity from Princeton Divest they consider anti-Semitic but I don’t see them classifying them as part of BDS.

    CAMERA assigns the tag “BDS” to discussion of Princeton Divests.

    That’s a much lower bar. Potentially Princeton Divest is taking the place of a BDS movement at Princeton Most people can see that a BDS movement could easily form from Princeton Divest. You see the same thing with all sorts of hate groups. The Aryan Brotherhood recruits from the militia movement and the militia movement recruits from gun enthusiast groups. That doesn’t mean that gun enthusiasts are part of the Aryan Brotherhood. It does mean that people who are tracking the Aryan Brotherhood and other such groups do watch the militia movement.

    Wikipedia puts things this way: “There is considerable debate about the scope, efficacy, and morality of the BDS movement.” That’s not compatible with your narrow, reductive understanding of BDS.

    Wikipedia has whole sections on goals which clearly indicate my “reductive understanding of BDS”. It ties BDS correctly to the Arab boycott. You are quoting Wikipedia way out of context.

    It doesn’t help your case to come and say, “I don’t know Princeton Divest[s]…” You admit that you don’t know the organization, but you know it can’t be BDS. Apparently, as far as you’re concerned, ignorance is knowledge.

    Will you stop with being an ass? What is your damage? What do you possibly think that rhetorical nonsense about “as far as I’m concerned ignorance is knowledge” is going to accomplish? I think you really need to examine your behavior. You may be misunderstanding things, you may disagree but none of that excuses your behavior in this dialogue.

    It is not hard to tell Princeton Divest is not an auto club or an astronomy club either. Princeton Divest explicitly says they aren’t part of the BDS and says why. I don’t need to know much to know you were wrong in classifying them as such.

    The only “argument” you’ve offered is to insist over and over that Omar Barghouti’s version of BDS is the only version you’re going to call “BDS,” even if other people refer to other things by that name, including members of the movement and their opponents.

    Your evidence keeps proving the opposite, that my definition is correct. Princeton Divest was your example. Wikipedia being yet another example you raised that says tho opposite of what you claim. All words are used sloppily. Kaa from the Jungle Book is clearly an indian python. Many people call him “boa constrictor” or “anaconda” that doesn’t mean anacondas are indian pythons nor that the classification of snakes is sloppy What is means is that people are informal and on top of that often make mistakes. The way you tell a definition is not from sloppy usage, but genuinely broad is when is that when challenged people stick to the broad definition. The opposite of what happens for Kaa or BDS.

    If Princeton Divest insisted they were part of BDS, say be example calling themselves Princeton BDS and the broader BDS movement accepted them as BDS, then the definition of BDS would grow to include Liberal Zionism and not just anti-Zionism.

    I think a more commonsense view of the matter is that an organization qualifies as being part of the BDS movement as long as it subscribes to a recognizably liberal conception of equal liberty, takes issue with Israel’s violations of equal liberty, and seeks to impose either boycott, divestment, or sanctions on Israel to express condemnation and/or exert pressure for policy change.

    The Meretz party in Israel meets that definition. Arza (the Reform Jewish group in the World Zionist Congress) meets that definition. That is not the more commonsense view of the matter, it is twisting the word beyond belief to mean something totally different. BDS is an anti-Jewish organization not an anti-occupation organization. The end of the occupation without the destruction of Israel would be a success for anti-occupation groups and a failure for BDS. Lots of people have been opposed to the occupation for decades. The change over the last ten years are campus groups in America being organized for the purpose of harassing, intimidating and humiliating Jewish students on those campuses. There is nothing unusual in people being opposed to the occupation that’s been true since 1967.

    Nothing about that is inherently anti-Semitic, and in a week of very long comments, you haven’t progressed a millimeter toward showing that it does.

    Liberal Zionism which is what the definition is about is not anti-Semitic.

    You also haven’t addressed the specifics of my claims about politeness and rudeness, but have ignored the actual passages I came up with and changed the subject.

    I think I addressed all your passages over the course of my posts. They weren’t rude, they weren’t exclusionary. Quite the opposite of BDSers.

    Moving to overzealousness: people can get overzealous when they get dogmatic and carried away by their emotions. That’s a common feature of the sociology of all political movements, and you don’t need to appeal to racism or anti-Semitism to explain it.

    It is not overzealousness it is anti-Semitism. If the BDSers were attacking how shiftless the Israelis were and besides they eat too much fried chicken and watermelon that wouldn’t be anti-Semitism. If BDSers were attacking Israel because Israelis were problem gamblers and whoremongers who often became heroin addicts that isn’t anti-Semitism. Were this just “overzealousness” then you would expect racist caricatures to be random. But that’s not what you see. What you see is Israel being attacked for elements of classical anti-Semitism / anti-Jewish. Overzealousness doesn’t explain those particular troupes being chosen.

    What you’re really trying to ask–between insinuations of anti-Semitism–is why people get heated up by the Palestinian cause in the first place. The answer is complex, but it involves the following: Israel is a sectarian state that’s imposed a 48 year long occupation on the Palestinians. As a sectarian state, it violates Americans’ commitment to the values of the First Amendment. As a state imposing a military occupation, it systematically violates people’s rights and thereby violates the values of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Further, it does this by demanding and receiving enormous amounts of U.S. aid and support. Though other countries with bad human rights records get a lot of aid, most of them are subject to sanctions of some kind for their misbehavior, Pakistan and Egypt being notable examples. Israel is not. Israel gets away with human rights violations without any push back by the government that props it up. Further, its rights violations are reminiscent of past American rights violations, e.g., the expropriation of Native Americans and Jim Crow. It’s a particular imperative for Americans not to support the very injustices that our own nation has committed in the past.

    Now that’s an attempt at an answer to the rudeness point. I think there are problems with it but at least you are getting somewhere in terms of presenting an answer. I’m going to address the reasons but remember the point anti-Semitism is not that the Palestinians aren’t a good cause but rather the actions on this good cause (if one wants to grant that) express itself as anti-Semitism.

    Let’s start. First off both Japan and South Korea are more way more sectarian / ethnic than Israel and receive far more aide from the USA. So if that were really the concern the indifference to say Japan would need to be explained. Israel has regular wars and most countries don’t have any domestic relationship with it at all. It has been subject to constant boycott and unceasing attack in international forums. That’s far more sanctions than Egypt or Pakistan.

    Second. If we are talking about people driven by the actual situation on the ground and not anti-Israeli ideology: I have real problems with calling what is going on in the West Bank just blanketly an occupation anymore. Huge chunks of the West Bank have been annexed for over a generation. Even if it were an occupation basic questions about who the territory is being occupied from emerge. There is a large settlement project to incorporate Area-C at least. Most elements of the Israeli government lay claim to some of the territory that has not been annexed. All of which makes the claim of “occupation” pretty questionable.

    I think it is far more reasonable to consider it disputed territory that Israel is actively developing chunks of. Which incidentally is the Israeli government’s position. I think this territory would normally be considered disputed were Israel / anti-Semitism not involved it would be like the Kuril Islands or conflicting claims on chunks of Antarctica between Argentina, France, UK… I think the whole occupation framing the way the UN does, is a result of denying Jewish self determination.

    Third one can reasonable object to the Palestinians living under a bad regime in Area-A. But if you want Israel to directly replace the Area-A government with something more humane that’s not a desire for Israel to end the occupation but rather to at least de-facto annex Area-A. It is the opposite of BDS and the anti-occupation group’s goals. Were they protesting for annexation I’d find the human rights defense plausible. Were they protesting for full citizenship for Area-A residents and not objecting to the occupation I’d find that plausible. One can object to Palestinians living under a military government but that’s not BDS. BDS is essentially in its most humane forms about spreading the government of Area-A to the Jewish parts of Israel not replacing it a government that respect human rights.

    Fourth on the 1st amendment stuff that doesn’t even make sense. Israel has a state church with religious offices as part of the state system. While it has freedom of religion at a personal level it wholly rejects the entire concept of separation of church and state. That’s like accusing Saudi Arabia or Bhutan of violating the 1st amendment. People hate Israel because it is not America?

    (You don’t stop to ask why there is pro-Israel heat, though the same question would apply to it as to pro-Palestinian heat.)

    No it doesn’t. Pro-Israel heat is easy to explain and is not reversible. There are 3 causes: Jewish self interest, Christian Zionism and political interests. I’ll do these fast and elaborate if needed.

    Jewish opposition to anti-Jewish hate groups: Jews in America have become Zionist. Israel has become the center of Jewish life and for many the most important thing that ties non-Orthodox American Jews to Judaism. The Orthodox even if in some vague sense anti-Zionist often travel to Israel regularly and have strong practical ties. The demographic die is cast. By 2100 70% of the Jewish population will be Israeli, 15% have strong ties (1/2 Israeli, Israeli home…) with Israel and only 15% non-Israeli with weak ties though they will often still be Zionist. The same way that Brazilian hispanics know that Donald Trump’s comments about Mexicans are also meant to apply to them, American Jews understand that BDS is really about them. If it were really about Israel a tiny country with a small population they would still disagree, but there wouldn’t be the “overzealousness”.

    So BDS is seen by Jews as an anti-Semitic group not much different from the various groups that existed in the 1930s reacting against Jewish entry to the professions. I personally think there is a bit more nuance but mostly Jews are not suicidal why shouldn’t they aggressively oppose anti-Jewish groups the same way blacks oppose anti-black groups. Donald Trump is drawing heat for saying much the same sort of things about hispanics that BDS says about Jews. BDS calls Israelis murders and rapists all the time.

    But even if one ignores that BDS is really a domestic anti-Semitic movement and treat it like a foreign policy movement it is still abhorrent. If BDS is successful in its stated goals, Jews in Israel will if survive at all be forever enslaved. Why wouldn’t any Jew with any sense of loyalty to their people oppose that forcefully? And for many American Jews this is not some abstraction, BDS is talking about destroying their literal cousins.

    dual loyalty: Jews also need to be concerned about charges of dual loyalty. The closer the USA and Israel are politically the less dual loyalty becomes a problem. For example, many Jewish Americans serve in the IDF openly. That same behavior for ISIS makes one a “foreign fighter” and subject to imprisonment on return. Creating tension between Israel and America will harm Jews ability to avoid dual loyalty. The more Netanyahu is thought of as being essentially the Republican Senator from Israel the better it is for Jews.

    Christian Zionism: Liberal Christians have developed a self contradictory relationship with Judaism where they still maintain an amillennialism but at the same time reject replacement theology. They are theologically vulnerable on their eschatology and they know it. A possible solution to this problem is a return to premillennialism via a Darbyish reading of scripture. Israel’s conquest of Jerusalem is vital for this reading to be salient because too many of the events in Revelation have to happen in a Jewish Jerusalem. Thus Liberal Christians have a strong theological interest in Jerusalem falling back into Palestinian hands and Conservative Christians have a strong theological interest in Jerusalem being judaized.

    American Politics: Jews from 1840-1940 were solidly part of the global left. A discriminated against minority which was part of the left coalition. In America in the North East they were Democrats. In the 1950s American Jews became white people. Today Jews are a fully integrated wealthy white constituency. Jews while numerically not all that important are unusually politically active, about 25% of Democratic activists and funding and thus important strategically well beyond their numbers. Jews are socially liberal and economically moderate. In terms of foreign policy they tend to be dovish. So theoretically Jewish votes mostly aren’t gettable votes for Republicans.

    But there is one big break for Republicans. Jews love Israel. To call yourself Jewish is to literally identify yourself with the ancient country of Judaea and thus quite often with its rebirth in Israel. While Jews can be opposed to Israeli policy on Palestine they are all (I’m talking 95% not JVP…) strongly opposed in practice to the USA bullying Israel into changing this policy. Even mild bullying from the USA shifts the Jewish vote and moves Jewish donations. While you mention issues with Israel most American Jews’ issues with Israel have more to do with the chief Rabbi and rabbinic councils than the Palestinians, so even when people are trying to fix policy they aren’t fixing the policies that American Jews often care most strongly about.

    Republicans have an obvious strong political interest in politicizing Israel and breaking a nice chunk of the the Jews off from the Democratic party. Republicans getting into nasty fights with the anti-Israel hard left on this issue is a wonderful way to put Democratic politicians in a horrible bind where they either end up siding with Republicans against large numbers of their own people (liberal Christians and anti-Israelis) or end up alienating a key constituency on an issue they have a track record of being willing to vote on. Also since many of these Republicans are Christian Zionists or come from districts with large numbers of them, these attacks help cement them with their Christian Zionist constituency. As an aside, if the Democrats don’t support the Republicans then these attacks benefits the hard left groups who are able to get Democratic mainstream support when Republicans attack them, so they also benefit from the heat. Attacking the anti-Israel hard left is thus necessary for the Democrats strategically though unpleasant. BDS makes it moreso when they phrase their attacks on Jews in the language of human rights and international law. For Democrats it can be often hard to attack these groups on purely policy grounds without sounding like a foreign policy hawk and thus potentially alienating voters from the broader constituencies that hold mild anti-Israeli views. So it is far easier is for mainstream Democrats to attack these groups on personal grounds and thus avoid the policy conversations.

    There is nothing like the Jewish / Christian Zionist pairing on the anti-Israel side. Most of the anti-Israeli side has no personal ties. If Palestinian Americans were a larger and more important group then you might be able to see something similar but they aren’t.

    Once you get involved in a decades-long cause, the potential for heat is there. In that respect, Israel/Palestine is no different from the gun rights cause, or the abortion cause, or the environment, or capital punishment, etc.

    Exactly they are treating it like a domestic issue. There is no good reason for most anti-Israelis that they should care about a foreign policy cause this much. The general reaction to Israeli news should be “where is Israel and what are Jews and Palestinians”, total indifference.

    If heat deserves an explanation, I’ve given one.

    Not really. You indicated a few things about Israel that mainly indicate it disagrees with the USA on matters of policy. You said that Israeli’s problems somehow reflect the USA’s even though the situations aren’t that similar. Heck most Americans don’t know much about the Indian wars and most Americans show little interest in displacement (or even genocides) of indigenous people’s in most countries. So I don’t see it. No countries have anything like America’s constitution. Israel isn’t America. You certainly never explained why people on the hard left would be so passionate about it other than hatred of Jews. You just asserted that somehow this issue draws people in and they have no choice but to become noxious extremists.

    You need to think about why it is that you can’t deal with arguments as they’re actually stated, but have to change them into something else in order to respond to claims that your interlocutor hasn’t asserted. Incidentally, you’ve unceremoniously dropped your claim that it’s anti-Semitic to want to change the laws of the State of Israel (“changes to law inside 1949 Israel”).

    I thought it was ironic having those two lines together. You frequently accuse me of behaviors you are engaging in. I most certainly never said anything of the kind. Israeli political parties want to change the laws of the State of Israel. The context here was “ is BDS fundamentally an anti-Semitic movement or fundamentally a movement opposed to the occupation.” What I then said about changes inside 1949 lines were: BDS itself quite clearly states is not opposed to just the occupation. It demands both “right of return” and changes to law inside 1949 Israel. A situation where Israel were to retreat to 1949 lines and end the occupation would be a failure of of BDS not its success according to its own policy objectives.

    Which means I was presenting evidence not that just that BDS is anti-Semitic but also that it isn’t merely opposed to the occupation. Moreover there was a “both” in that sentence you dropped which is changing what your interlocutor had asserted. Those two policies are inconsistent with a movement merely opposed to occupation.

    I pointed out that that would imply that the Knesset’s ratifying a peace deal or ending the occupation would be an act of anti-Semitism. What’s your answer?

    Those other two demands have nothing to do with the occupation. That’s the point. There are 3 demands and only 1 of them is about the occupation. BDS isn’t about the occupation! The occupations is just one thing BDSers hate about Jews. BDS is not an anti-occupation group. There is nothing anti-Semitic with agreeing to the 1967 borders. Stupid, foolish, pointless, all yes. Anti-Semitic no.

    I forgot to add one last thing: Though I don’t think that one has to sign on to Barghouti’s version of BDS to be part of the BDS movement, I don’t want to leave the impression that I regard Barghouti’s BDS as anti-Semitic, either. You haven’t come up with any argument for why it should be regarded that way.

    I’ve given several arguments why it is anti-Semitic. The most important being that if one takes the doctrines of anti-Semitism “Barghouti’s BDS” preaches virtually every element of that anti-Semitism in its literature and views. See above where I listed these out. Herzl and Hitler are really the only two leaders to have come up with long term solutions to the Jewish question that work outside America. It is not shocking that once you turn away from Herzl you inevitable turn towards variants of The Final Solution. Barghouti doesn’t name how Palestine will be peaceful once the evil Jews are defeated and the righteous Palestinians take control he just leaves that to the imagination.

    but I don’t regard [the goals] as inherently anti-Semitic, and have not been convinced by anything you’ve said that it is.

    The goals aren’t inherently anti-Semitic, they are grossly unfair, stupid and contradictory however.

    My claim is that the organization is anti-Semitic not the goals. The goal of Germany getting out from the punishing reparations of World War I wasn’t inherently anti-Semitic but the Nazi party was. The goal of ending the South getting out from Northern domination wasn’t inherently racist but the Klan was. All sorts of hate groups have goals which if another group with a totally different attitude were to adopt would be fine. That might be the case with BDS or it might not, but it is irrelevant to dealing with actual BDS. Not dealing with the reality of BDS and pretending it is an anti-occupation movement is dishonest. Opposition to the occupation is Liberal Zionism, blanket opposition to the Jewish people is anti-Semitism. BDS rejects 1949 Israel and thus whatever else one can say about it is not certainly not just an anti-occupation group.

    In practice anti-Zionist movements, of which BDS is just one, for the last 60 years are generally focused on attacks on the domestic Jewish population by the governments or powerful factions. Ironically this has often lead to that population migrating to Israel. BDS in America is not much different than any of the other Soviet anti-Zionist / anti-Semitic movements which recast Nazism in the language of human rights. Those anti-Zionist movements cleaned the Arab world of its Jewish population, the Soviet sphere of its Jewish population and also other scattered countries like Iran. Currently in South Africa and Venezuela the anti-Zionist Jewish expulsion process is well underway and in France potentially it is just getting started.

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  11. I’m going to refine my answer a bit on the goals of BDS. In theory it is possible to imagine an alternative group holding the 3 goals of BDS isn’t anti-Semitic. I’d put Ali Abunimah in this camp. Many of the cultural Zionists of the early 20th century had objectives fully in line with a secular state with a Palestinian majority. It wasn’t until the 1920s that Palestinian violence against the Yishuv discredited this viewpoint among among a super-majority of Palestinian Jews and only much later among most American Zionists. I can imagine that with time in theory such a process reversing.

    In practice though what they amount to in the context of 2015 is a denial of Jewish self determination in a way that is inherently discriminatory. I’ll take your claim for example that you object to sectarian states. In theory that’s a nice neutral criteria not particularly biased against Jews. In practice though no one is talking about actually flooding: Iran, Japan or Cambodia with a hostile population so as to override their sectarian state. In the other cases it is a casual opposition (if that) while in the case of Israel it is working towards actualizing the national destruction of the Jews. ISIS may object to American style credobaptist Christianity as much as thy hate Yazidism. But they had the practical power to annihilate almost completely Yazidism while they lacked the practical power to do much damage at all to credobaptist Christianity.

    The 3 BDS principles are a the principles for national annihilation.
    1) Cut off huge chunks of territory to create a permanent base for enemy operations and thus strategic depth for the anti-Jewish factions to be created.
    2) Flood Israel with a hostile invading alien population
    3) Insist that the Jewish society take no action to defend itself against the hostiles

    That’s clearly a policy whose obvious intent is the destruction of the Israel as a nation and not just as a state. That’s a level of violence well beyond what is ever done in the case of human rights violations. Regime change happens, national destruction is rarely the goal. There are exceptions like Soviet / Russian treatment of the Chechnya but they are rare. Moreover in every other case the west left is uniformly opposed to national destruction. Only in the case of the Jews is something like the BDS program considered an acceptable way to resolve a policy dispute. That willingness to treat Jews unlike any other people is rooted in a hatred of Jews.

    Where you really see it though is the defenses for the BDS program. For example the ASA uses terms like “occupation of Palestinian lands”. Most ASA scholars in most contexts don’t believe that racial groups are entitled to the permanent possession of lands. But when they hold lands in opposition to Jews suddenly racial land entitlement is perfectly acceptable.

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  12. Pingback: A Teenager Shall Lead Them | Policy of Truth

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