Monday, August 31, 2009

The Frivolous Idiocies Of Identity Politics & "Apartheid Israel" Boycotts

On the former idiocy, Walter Benn Michaels:

"In the US, one of the great uses of racism was (and is) to induce poor white people to feel a crucial and entirely specious fellowship with rich white people; one of the great uses of anti-racism is to make poor black people feel a crucial and equally specious fellowship with rich black people. Furthermore, in the form of the celebration of ‘identity’ and ‘ethnic diversity’, it seeks to create a bond between poor black people and rich white ones. So the African-American woman who cleans my office is supposed to feel not so bad about the fact that I make almost ten times as much money as she does because she can be confident that I’m not racist or sexist and that I respect her culture. . ."

Uri Avnery on the latter idiocy, a current mania in 'anti-imperialist' circles:

"The Jews amount to more than 80 per cent of Israel's citizens and constitute a majority of some 60 per cent throughout the country between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. And 99.9 per cent of the Jews oppose a boycott on Israel. They will not feel that 'the whole world is with us,' but rather that 'the whole world is against us.'

"In South Africa, the worldwide boycott helped in strengthening the majority and steeling it for the struggle. The impact of a boycott on Israel would be the exact opposite. It would push the large majority into the arms of the extreme right and create a fortress mentality against the 'anti-semitic world.'

"People are not the same everywhere."


Blogger Jonathan said...

Uri Avnery's analysis seems spot on. Already, we have seen the almost complete collapse of the Israeli left as Hamas has stepped up it's game and Western "anti-imperialists" cry "apartheid" at every move the state makes. What would be sick here is if the Western community isolates Israel so completely that it is forced, by existential necessity, to become the rogue nation of leftist fantasy.

2:03 PM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

Watch: Uri Avnery will be labeled a "zionist stooge" faster than you can say "we are all Hamas now." His past history and extensive writings won't matter a damn. (I've disagreed with lots of what he says, but always admired the man anyway, he has guts!)

2:21 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

But Jonathan, but Vildechaye, you tell more Zionist lies!

2:53 PM  
Blogger mikeal said...

It's good good to see you cite Uri Avnery, who I still respect although too bad you didnt also cite him when he was standing with other Israelis protesting the killing of over 400 children in Gaza. He has done a lot for the cause and has spoken out for Palestinians more than any Israeli public figure I know of. he was one of the first Israelis to meet with Palestinian officials and it would be rather pathetic to see a man of his moral character evoked simply to bash those on your left.
I dont agree with Avnery on this issue, nor do I believe we have the luxury of waiting for Barack Obama to do magically solve all the problems. A boycott is itself a nonviolent strategy to end an occupation which Israel refuses to do. At least Avnery puts forward an alternative strategy. What's yours?

3:08 PM  
Blogger mikeal said...

"Peoples are not the same everywhere. It seems that the Blacks in South Africa are very different from the Israelis, and from the Palestinians, too. The collapse of the oppressive racist regime did not lead to a bloodbath, as could have been predicted, but on the contrary: to the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee. Instead of revenge, forgiveness. Those who appeared before the commission and admitted their misdeeds were pardoned. That was in tune with Christian belief, and that was also in tune with the Jewish Biblical promise: “Whoso confesseth and forsaketh [his sins] shall have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13"

With respect this is where I take issue the most with the good Uri Avnery's argument. Yes, peoples are not the same, but what is the implication here? That, were the same process to begin in I/P, the Palestinians (who are mostly Muslim, alas) would choose revenge and not forgiveness? This, expecting Palestinians not to act conciliatorily at the prospect of Truth & Reconciliation, is unacceptable and dehumanising.

Regardless of his disappointing lack of vision here, I still respect Avnery for what he has stood for elsewhere. He recongizes the gravity of the history, the massive power inblance and the intracies of the occupation, as all morally serious people who care about this conflict should. Thats better than most of the voices you post here, Bernie Farber and all. Edward Said, too, was always against the Arab cultural boycott of Israel viewing it as counterproductive. He thought the goal should be for a liberaltion movement to take its arguments to the Israeli people directly, without barriers. The problem here seems to be that diplopmacy and waiting for soem movement in Israel to end the occupation has gotten us nowhere, and in fact created a situation whereby the "peace process" has been a eupamism for the blockakes, evcitions, the continued slicing up of Palestinain land (as brillaintly outlined by Zizek) and mostly the status quo-an Israeli state ruling over the lives of millions of palestinians.

I know you desribe yourself as a strong supporter of combatants for peace. They want to mobilize civil society in Israel and they physically stand with Palestinians and engage in protests against checkpoints, blockades and the wall. Do you feel that these type of acts are more effective in fighting the occupation than a boycottt? And how do we begin to give them more support

3:21 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

"Do you feel that these type of acts are more effective in fighting the occupation than a boycottt?"

Yes. But still mostly in vain, I fear, so long as there remains such a vast supply of idiots on the self-proclaimed "left" (and don't be smart with me, Mikeal; they are not to my left) who support Hamas and accomodate Hamas apologists and other such eliminationists.

One Voice.


p.s you forget to mention white phosphorous.

3:37 PM  
Blogger mikeal said...

The actions of Hamas to drop the Holocaust from its textbooks is dusgusting and should be condemned. But Terry should you also see fit to mention the Israeli Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar recently announced that the term "Nakba" will be dropped from school textsbooks for the new school year in a move which is drawing waves of protest from Arab citizens of Israel, who rightly see their historical narrative being denied by the state.

What gives? When it comes to Israli racism, chauvinism and yes violence shouldnt we make sure that we dont have double standards? Just saying

3:43 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"This, expecting Palestinians not to act conciliatorily at the prospect of Truth & Reconciliation, is unacceptable and dehumanising."

From the delicate formulation above, I suppose Mikeal is one who does expect palestinians to act conciliatorily at the prospect of Truth & Reconciliation.

I'm very eager to believe him. Can he provide some examples, some precedents, which can lend substance to this beautiful thought?

3:43 PM  
Blogger mikeal said...

p.s you forget to mention white phosphorous

Actually Amnesty, B'tselem and about every human rights group that looked into the fighting in Gaza covered that. Maybe you dont beleive them. I do

3:44 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"The actions of Hamas to drop the Holocaust from its textbooks"

Reading this, again, delicate formulation, one might be excused for thinking that Hamas textbooks included coverage of this event but now Hamas decided to "drop" it from its textbooks.

The art of lying pleasantly.

Here is the real deal:

"Gaza's ruling Islamist movement Hamas has resisted suggestions that Palestinian children should be taught about the Holocaust in UN-run schools.

The head of its education committee in Gaza, Abdul Rahman el-Jamal, told the BBC that the Holocaust was a "big lie".


The UN, which runs most Gazan schools, recently asked local groups whether the Holocaust should be taught. "

Reading Mikeal's renditions of information, events and records, is like walking in a minefield; one needs to be extra careful to walk around entire blocks of information and historically-verifiable records in order to insist on believing anything he says.

3:50 PM  
Blogger mikeal said...

"I fear, so long as there remains such a vast supply of idiots on the self-proclaimed "left" (and don't be smart with me, Mikeal; they are not to my left) who support Hamas and accomodate Hamas apologists and other such eliminationists."

Right. So Israel, as part of decades long policy to control a unified Jerusalem, recently evicts 50 palestinians from their homes which are then taken over by settlers, builds a illegal wall cutting which annexes and cuts through Palesitnain villages all the while forifying its colonial expansion in the West Bank, and keeps hunbdred of thousdands of its population and soldiers in alnd, which according to international law and any sense of morality belongs to Palestnians and all of this is part of a systme build in inequality, bureacarcy and violence yet it would all end, Israel would do none of it if only Zizek didnt write such critical articles in the Guardian, or there wasnt a boycott or Desmond Tutu (lauded in that article by Avnery) would shut up.

Right. Sure. This is crazy and a nice fairy tale at best and covering up for the nasty violent occupation at worst. Either way it makes no sense.

4:00 PM  
Blogger mikeal said...

p.s you forget to mention white phosphorous

Im not really sure what this means, btw. Do you doubht that this was the case? If so is Amnesty International lying or are you simply not bothered by the use of such means on a civilian population? Just curious

4:02 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

"Im not really sure what this means, btw"

It means that you're so damn predictable it's not even funny.

I see you have now mentioned the white phosphorous, with a link.

Good little drone, Mikeal.

Positively Pavlovian.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Louise said...

The Contentious Centrist: "From the delicate formulation above, I suppose Mikeal is one who does expect palestinians to act conciliatorily at the prospect of Truth & Reconciliation....Can he provide some examples, some precedents, which can lend substance to this beautiful thought?"

EXACTLY!!! Even the Egyptians loathe them.

4:26 PM  
Blogger mikeal said...

Right its far less predictable and utterly non Pavlovian, and moral to cite apologists for the occupation who have never said a critical word about the Israeli state, like Bernie Farber, and when confronted about my own opinion on the issue I will just repeat "one voice" without really engaging in the politics of history of the conflict. Throw in the fatc that you never say a critical word about Israeli policies anmd act as if the palestinains just happen to be dispossed and occupied, as if its not the Israeli state who acts as the perpetuator, the occupier and dispossesor. No dont mention that. You might have created a contrarian like iamge for yourself on this issue, but it lacks any substance and is morallty unacceptable. Too bad

4:29 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...


It may have escaped your attention, but I have rarely expressed anything even approaching an opinion on the subject, either way.

What opinions I do hold are based on my careful reading of the abject failure of the Palestinians' most loudmouthed "friends" abroad, and their transparently disingenuous claims of concern for Palestinian suffering.

I don't bother myself to get into these slanging matches, least of all on a blog, with anonymous commenters, because it does absolutely no good, and almost invariably lowers the tone around this place.

But if you must know, my view on the "occupation" is that Israel would be best served unilaterally resolving the matter, as Israel did in the case of Gaza, by either relocating the settlers out of the West Bank and/or expanding the territorial extent of the West Bank in some commensurate way. I'd suggest this, as if my opinion counts for any damn thing, not to bring "peace," because this is not the reason for the absence of peace in that neighbourhood, but rather so Israelis might get shut of the issue, Palestinians might find less of an immediate aggravation to lay at the feet of Israel, a tiny bit of justice might be served, and the Israeli state might then focus on more easily defensible ground.

And I also may well be imagining something wholly impractical or unrealistic by holding this opinion.

My only firm conviction about the Israel-Palestine conflict, about which everyone and his dog is supposed to have some hard and unmoveable opinion for some damn reason, is that there are two wars going on here, and it is their conflation, their unintended fusion, and sometimes their deliberate substitution, that makes the "debate," especially on the so-called "left," so useless and endless.

On the one hand, we have what might be described as the just struggle of the Palestinian people (and no, Louise, the people are not "loathsome," thanks) for a state of their own, living in peace with Israel. I might observe here that the best friends those Palestinians have are Israelis, and their worst enemy is Hamas.

The other is a war against Israel, the very idea of Israel, and against modernity, secularism, women's rights, free speech, "the west," and, as always, against the Jews. The belligerents in this second "war" use the Palestinians as fodder, and use the idiocies that animate so much of the "left" as cover.

I am not going to engage you in debate about this. If you don't like my opinion, then I invite you to boycott my rosy Irish ass.

5:20 PM  
Blogger Louise said...

"the people are not "loathsome," thanks) for a state of their own, living in peace with Israel."

Since when did Hamas want that? And besides, that's not what I said. Might I remind you, the wall built by Israel to keep the Pals out was not the only wall built in the Middle East to keep them out.

It's been years and years and years since the Israeli-Palestinian thing has been about a homeland for the Pals. I used to support their cause, until it finally dawned on me that they weren't the least bit interested in actually achieving it. They have turned down many, many opportunities to achieve most of what they wanted.

I commend Egypt now for its role in attempting to broker a lasting peace, but I won't hold my breath, at least not until the regime in Iran falls.

6:24 PM  
Blogger mikeal said...

Okay, then I will boycott the site if you're not up for engaging in a dialogue and choose to speak in generalities and platitudes. The fatc that you out the occupation in quatation marks is itself pretty damn appalling given the fact that it can be defined by coun tless UN resolutions, international law, a lived day to day reality of any Palestinian and a wholescale system. It reminds me of Likudnik langauge when they sometimes say that its "dispuited" not occupied land. The point is the same and that's too make it an open question as to whether Palestinains, who can trace their lineage to the land for generations, and have lived in exile have a right to self determination. That claim has been documented in the words of poets like Darwish, in day to day political struggles and you seem not to be interested much in doing some heavy lifting and finding out about this often hidden and all too distorted reality. Pretty damn appalling. I've never understood how North Americans who live on a continent where we get mad at people for stealing our parking spaces, cannot empathize more with people who have lost their country, their homes. Your tone on this issue seems too distant and removed.

And distinction matters. When Zizek say that we should ask so called liberals in Israel--who refer to extremist "on both sides"- what happens on an average day in the west bank is he aiding extremist. He is right to say on an average day when the world turns away a process continues that chokes up a Palestinians econom y, steals its land, barricades its settlers and makes any state that you and I would like to see impossible while we sit and here and debate, like fools. He is right.

You say Israelis are the best friends of Palestinians seeking justice. Which Israelis? Neve Gordon, Uri Avnery, the tiny peace camp in Israel which historically has been feckless in challenging the dominant myths of their country. Or the Israelis who support government after govenrment which continues these policies unabbated, the current one which features openly racist Lieberman who calls for draconian loyalty oaths for Arab citizens only. Is it the 95 per cent Israeli population who supported the attacks on Gaza, on a population being blocakes and yes boycotted, a policy denounced by aid groups? Your langauge needs more disticntions and far more clarity on these issues.

As for all that jazz about modernity, secularism and what not it rings hallow without a deeper understanding (reading more avnery would be a good start) of the dominant mythology in Israel which has perpetuated a system whereby a nations identity has been formed through brutalizing and denying the legitimacy of a people, and not treating them as equals. Brother, you need to dig far deeper

6:29 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Mikeal, whoever you are, if you're so concerned about the Palestinians, why don't you go to the West Bank and work with people there instead of attacking people in the comments sections of blogs that you disagree with? There's a lot of useful work you could do there (and I mean that seriously, not sarcastically) - use your energy for something positive once in a while, instead of arguing with people you don't agree with.

6:58 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Louise: If you meant Hamas, fine by me. That was not clear by your comment.

Mikeal: "The point is the same and that's too make it an open question as to whether Palestinains, who can trace their lineage to the land for generations, and have lived in exile have a right to self determination."

No, it's not. It's because the term "occupation" is contentious precisely because of the common elision between the "occupation" of the West Bank by Israel and the "occupation" of that part of the former British mandate of Palestine now appearing on most maps as "Israel."

To oppose the "occupation" in first sense of the term is one thing. To oppose the "occupation" in the second is quite another thing. In the anti-Israel histrionics that plead for recognition as "legitimate criticism of Israel," one can barely tell which is which.

". . .while we sit and here and debate, like fools."

Speak for yourself. I'm not debating you. Not interested.

6:58 PM  
Blogger mikeal said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:08 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

I won't allow your disgusting insults here, Mikael, whoever you are.

8:24 PM  
Blogger mikeal said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:35 PM  
Blogger Thermblog said...

Zimbabwe was handed over tp people unsuited to governance and is a shambles; the majority of her people are much worse off than before (despite Rhodesia's "race" laws). A functioning country that fed others via exports, is in disarray.

The South African story is not yet told. It is a virtual one-party state, productivity is declining and corruption is rife. Filling in government forms involves revealing one's race.

Do we never look back and ask if we did things the right way?

7:31 AM  
Blogger Louise said...

Terry, Hamas is only the latest incarnation of a long line of organizations which chose terror, blowing up innocent civilians as well as themselves, not just in Israel, but in many other locales as well and training their children, literally from toddlerhood, to viscerally hate Jews and aspire to suicide bombings as soon as they are old enough to strap on the belt. Fatah is only marginally better and that only in recent years. Basically, the whole lot of them have been in a downward spiral, with the occasional short lived blip in the other direction, since the beginning of Arab Nationalism.

One would think that after more than half a century, if they really wanted statehood, they might begin to question the efficacy of this strategy. Even on those rare occasions in which a peace was negotiated, it only took days, sometimes only hours, for the Pals, through one or another group that happened to be extant at the time, to start the violence all over again. In my books, they have forfeited all claims to the right of self determination. They are thugs who wouldn't have a clue what to do with it.

Mikael, how come we never hear commentary from you folks on the little factoids on Hamas such as the following, which happened prior to and during the recent war in Gaza?

- Shooting rockets and grenades purposely on civilian targets in Israel.
- Shooting these rockets from within Palestinian civilian compounds such as schools or in close proximity of hospitals or residential buildings.
- Storing weapons and ammunition in schools, mosques, public offices and buildings and the sort.
- Regularly using their own civilians as human shield; particularly children, often forced to be in the most dangerous spots.
- During fighting with the Israeli forces the Hamas fighters, who wore uniforms at the beginning, changed to civilian clothing or IDF uniforms and continued to fight.
- Hamas fighters have routinely hid among civilians in hospitals
- To the kidnapped Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit, Hamas did not provide the most elementary rights of war prisoners, such as information given to the other side and Red Cross visits, rights Israel grants even to convicted Hamas terrorists.
- Children and minors were routinely used by Hamas for military tasks, both battle and auxiliary. The Hamas regime has also educated, indoctrinated and trained children and minors to murderous hatred, to will and techniques to kill.
- The Hamas leadership embezzled aid money received for the peaceful needs of Gaza's population and used these extensive funds for war efforts; weaponry, military equipment and constructions, and an enormous military build-up.

More here.

7:57 AM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"In my books, they have forfeited all claims to the right of self determination. They are thugs who wouldn't have a clue what to do with it."

I do not disagree with your pessimistic take on Palestinian rejectionism. However, I do not see how much longer will Israel be able to sustain its occupation and restraining of this people, in the current manner. It is better that Israel withdraws to a more defensible borderline. And this can only happen if Jewish settlements enclaved deep inside Palestinian land are removed and moved into areas within Israel. As long as there is presence there, there will be growth. And this growth worries me because it does not seem to have a future commensurate with the wishes of most Israelis. What the Palestinians then do with the Judenrein WB is completely up to them. Separation is an existential necessity for Israel. The ultra religious settlers who are there mostly because of their faith will simply have to accept that Israel's law will bind them, and that Israel's needs cannot be achieved in the Jewish heartland but somewhere nearby.

I think Israel should build two great, well designed cities, one in the Negev and one in the Galilee, to accommodate the displaced settlers, and anyone else who might want to live there.

8:23 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

The Centrist makes sense.

Louise: I get your point, but no, you can't dismiss the Palestinian right to self-determination because of its thug leadership and the brutalization of its people. Recent polling confirms that roughly three quarters of the Palestinian people want a two-state solution, the same proportion as Israelis who favour two states. And I would again direct your attention to the One Voice movement, which has drawn Israelis and Palestinians in equal numbers to pledge themselves to non-violent mobilization for a negotiated, two-state settlement. It is precisely because of the violence and gunbarrel politics that rule in Palestine that the bravery of One Voice Palestinians stands out so prominently. It's not like these people can simply put up posters calling for a meeting at the local library. Just talking about this stuff means putting their lives on the line.

This is what is missing in the "west," in the trade unions, the student movement, and so on: Solidarity with the pro-peace Palestinians and their Israeli brothers and sisters. Absent a robust campaign of international solidarity with these brave Palestinians and Israelis, the reactionary "boycott" elements and Hamas apologists will set the terms of the debate.

8:44 AM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

Just to comment on three quotes:

1-Terry: "It means that you're so damn predictable it's not even funny." -- too true Terry, what a great response.

2-Mikey: "I will boycott the site..." -- If only

3-Mikey: "...if you're not up for engaging in a dialogue and choose to speak in generalities and platitudes." -- this from the King of Predictable Platitudes, who has never uttered a critical word about the Palestinians' contribution to the situation. It's as though to Mikey, they have no agency at all. Oh yeah, i forgot, power imbalance and all that .... yawn.

4-Mikey: "I've never understood how North Americans who live on a continent where we get mad at people for stealing our parking spaces, cannot empathize more with people who have lost their country, their homes. Your tone on this issue seems too distant and removed." -- so i take it you're as concerned and emotionally invested about First Nations getting their land and sovereignty back, because you wouldn't want to be "distant and removed," from the same injustices that take place in your own backyard now do you?

Absolutely hilarious.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Louise said...

I don't disagree with you, Contentious Centrist, but you're right, my pessimism is very deep. I do not see this happening within what remains of my lifetime (I reached the 6-Oh! a couple of days ago). This problem started long before I was even born. And I'm not saying, nor have I ever said, that Israel is blameless. (I used to spout the nonsense that Mikael blathers on about.) But in my humble opinion, Israel has exercised remarkable restraint over and over again and there have been occasions where settlements have been dismantled to no effect.

The only hopeful sign I have seen recently is a shift by most Arab countries, at least as far as lip service is concerned, but the Pals have never been without powerful and brutal allies willing to stir up shit and keep hate alive, so to speak and the shift was motivated primarily by the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and more recently, the increasingly hot and belligerent stance emanating from the thugocracy in Iran. Something will have to happen to that bunch and any others that may take their place if peace seeking Palestinians are to realize their dreams.

I agree that standing up to the thugs takes enormous courage. Normally it leads to maiming or death at the command of their thuggish "leadership", without anything remotely resembling due process.

11:42 AM  
Blogger mikeal said...

People here may want to open up their history books and remind themselves that it was Israel, in the 1980's, who encouraged the growth of Hamas, seeing it at the time as a competeter to the secular nationalism of the Fatah which was at that time deemed the enemy. A classic divide and conquer strategy which in this case proved to be disastrous. No doubt secularism, equality, and enlightenment are important values to defend but what does a nasty, racist occupation build on dispossesion have to do with that. The very idea that Terry would say Israel should leave the West bank, firstly because its in Israels interest is itself part of the problem. We view the conflict from the framework of the occupier. From that lens it becomes easy to dismiss those who see the entire Israeli state, which was built on the ruins of 500 Arab villages, as occupied. To say this is not to call for Israel's erasure. No. Its to suggest that some sort of acknowledgement that of the suffering that the palestinians expereinced as part of the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing, is integral to creating a path where two people, both who have experienced exile and loss, can share the same land.

There has been far too much flippant discussion here of the boycott. It should be mentioned that Uri Avnery while disagreeing with the tactic says he deepley respects the commitment of Nev e Gordon and others who stand diametrically opposed to the dominant political trends in their country. For a more nuanced view, here's Naomi Klein who has been both bold and corageous on this issue

"But If I were boycotting Israelis, I wouldn't be in Israel engaging with Israelis. I would have stayed home.

One of the things we are trying to draw out with this tour is that for foreigners like me, however you choose to come to Israel, you are making choices, and you are taking a side. It's possible to pretend that you are not, but that's only because of Israel's success in making the conflict invisible inside a carefully constructed bubble.

In my book there is a long chapter about Israel and the construction of the homeland security state. It looks closely at the companies that build the high-tech walls and fences and checkpoints and that keep Palestinians in the Occupied Territories in a state of constant surveillance.

It is because of the effectiveness of the homeland security sector that it's possible to come to cities like Tel Aviv and be almost completely oblivious to what is happening in Ramallah, in Gaza. This state is like a giant gated community. It has perfected the art of constructing a security bubble, and that is, in a sense, its brand.

It's a brand that is sold to Diaspora Jews like me. It says: "We can keep you safe, we can create, in a sea of enemies, a bubble of safety for you to enjoy, to have a wonderful beach holiday, to go to film festivals and book festivals -- even as we bomb Gaza, even as we turn the West Bank into a chain of mini-Bantustans, surrounded by walls and expanding settlements, and roads Palestinians don't have access to."

These are two sides of the same coin: the bubble of normalcy, the brutality of enclosure. So it is not a politically neutral act to partake of that bubble.

This is a very important dialogue to have, and that's why it was so important for us to publish the book in Hebrew -- both to get the information out there, and to challenge people who are misrepresenting this tactic as being a boycott of Jews or a boycott of Israelis. We're not doing that at all.

I donated the royalties to Andalus so that I'm not personally profiting from this, and I chose to work with Andalus because it is an activist publisher with a clear anti-occupation stand.

If the book does well, then it helps them to continue their work. The boycott campaign doesn't ask people not to come to Israel or the Occupied Territories to share ideas and art -- it asks that we do so in clear opposition to occupation and discrimination."

9:15 PM  
Blogger mikeal said...

And this I think is the crux. Compare her honesty, her integral commitment not to close her eyes away from the horrors with the platitudes which are offered in defence for eviction, occupation and dehumanization, tinged, often with not to subtle anti arab racism. Here's Klein

"I also think we need to be very clear: This is an extraordinarily asymmetrical conflict where the Israeli state is the biggest boycotter of all. The economy in Gaza and the West Bank has been utterly destroyed by closures.

Beyond shutting down the borders so producers in Gaza couldn't get fruits and vegetables out, you had [over 200] factories in Gaza hit during the attack in late December and January. It was a systematic destruction of that economy to try to "teach Gaza a lesson" for having voted for Hamas. So, boycotts are happening.

The way I see BDS is that this is a tactic that we are resorting to because of Israeli impunity. There is an absolute unwillingness to apply international law to the Israeli state. Hamas has committed war crimes, but there is absolutely an international response to those crimes. [There is no response to Israeli war crimes, which are on an exponentially larger scale.]

We were just in Gaza. The thing that really struck me was the sense of shock among so many people that, even after the December/January attacks, even after hundreds of children were killed, there have been no actions taken by the international community to hold Israel accountable.

I mean, this was a display of utter impunity and disdain for international law, for the laws of war -- which, by the way, were created in direct response to the Nazi atrocities of the second World War. And yet, not only are there no consequences for those crimes, but the illegal siege of Gaza is still on.

What BDS is saying is our governments have failed. The United Nations has failed. The so-called international community is a joke. We have to fill the vacuum.

I also believe this movement could be a game-changer in the United States. Let's remember that a huge part of the success of the anti-apartheid struggle in the '80s was due to popular education.

Once you said, "Our school or town should divest from apartheid South Africa," you immediately had to have a big teach-in where you had to explain what apartheid was, and you had to make your case persuasively. And people were persuaded.

The Palestinian BDS call could play that kind of movement-building role today, giving people something concrete they can organize around in their schools and communities.

Whether he recognizes it or not, [President Barack] Obama needs the Palestinian struggle to be a popular, grassroots issue like the South African struggle was. He has taken very small steps to forge a new kind of deal with Israel, but he's facing enormous push-back from the right. There has to be a counterpressure on Obama saying, "Actually, you're not going far enough. Excuse me, no new settlements? How about no settlements, period?"

So the only hope of not just having him hold to this tentative position, but actually improving this position, is if there's a popular movement that is very clear in its demands for Israel to abide by international law on all fronts, and that's exactly what BDS is."

9:24 PM  
Blogger Dave Zeglen said...


I'm having difficulty parsing your rather ubiquitous textual diarrhea.

In rhetoric, I believe 'brevity is the soul of wit' yes?

10:32 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

What an "own goal" that was.

Naomi Klein gets around the very boycott she defends by signing a book deal with some hipster publishing house in Israel. The big deal about BDS is that it lends itself to 60s-style "teach-ins," apparently. And PACBI bigshot Omar Barghouti himself is enrolled at Tel Aviv University, if you don't mind.

And people who laugh at this are "flippant"?

What a masterstroke of idiocy that was.

10:54 PM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

Yes yes mikey, by now we know, you're the moral one, we're all flippant..... occupation, violation of international law, bombing with impunity, yah yah yah ... but hey, have i ever heard you even once mention a Palestinian/Arab/Muslim action against Israel, much less have an opinion on it.
Shut the f*ck up already. We know what you're saying. We've heard it thousands of times before. We disagree. Big time (since your one-way morality and inability to suggest anything resembling a "solution" makes it difficult if not impossible to acknowledge areas of agreement, even where they might exist.) Bye now.

8:49 AM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

Our very own Mr. Morality said this re Gaza: "this was a display of utter impunity and disdain for international law, for the laws of war -- which, by the way, were created in direct response to the Nazi atrocities of the second World War. And yet, not only are there no consequences for those crimes, but the illegal siege of Gaza is still on."

Note the deviousness of this quote. 1-"utter impunity and disdain for international law" -- now that's entirely a matter of opinion. others of course argue that it was a justified response to aggression and provocation
2-disdain for the laws of war.... i would say that Hamas beat israel on that front through human shields, etc. etc.
3-"which by the way, were a direct response to Nazi atrocities" -- cute way of linking Israel to the Nazis yet again, with absolutely 0 grounds, as always.
4-"illegal seige of Gaza." Which court has ruled Gaza siege illegal? and has Egypt's Gaza siege also been ruled illegal? In fact, has Egypt's Gaza siege ever been called a siege before?

You're more full of shit than a cow pasture.

8:57 AM  
Blogger mikeal said...

You obviously havent read the interview. Naomi Klein doesn't get "around a boycott" that she supports, rather she makes opposition to occupation conditional to her engagement with Israel. The Hebrew publishing crew that she is running with is the only one in the country that translates Arabic books into Hebrew, making Palestinian voices visible, some thing the owner calls an "act of resistance", and works to oppose the occupation. This is a political stand worthy of our support not some "hipster" company. Sigh.

I know that you will retort by saying that most Israelis and many Palestinians already support a two state solution. Even the grotesque Bibi is now on board. The problem is that unless you understand the lay of the land, and have an intimate knowledge and opposition to the process which Zizek described well (the banstutization of Palestinians in noncontinuous cantons) you may very well end up calling for a bunch of disconncted ghettoes ruled over by Israel, which is basically what Oslo and every other "peace process" amounted to as your source Uri Avnery has described quite well

9:20 AM  
Blogger mikeal said...

As for Villey, sigh what can one say. Of course Hamas be deplored because of war crimes, targetting of innocents, firing rockets et cetera. But in the real world Israel' crimes as well as record of bloodletting supercede Hamas by such a great magnitude, on top of the fact that they are occupying and dispossessing Palestinians, that your focus on Palestinian violence acts only to emphasize the fact that you clearly, in some ways, believe that an Israeli life is inherently more valuable that a Palestinian, as the latter is fueled by irrational hatred (which can never be understood by looking at history) forgetting the rather inconvenient fact that more than a few cabinet ministers in Israel are open racists (in lieberman's case lets say quasi fascist) and the occupation is itself built-- structurally- on the dehumanisation and denial of Palestinian rights and two tiered rights. Even Jimmy Carter hardly a far left demegogue says that much. That might hurt your feelings Villey but it's the truth

9:42 AM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

Hey Mikey: If you got your head out of your ass long enough, you might notice that I don't "focus on Palestinian acts" at all; in fact, what I do, and all I do, is respond to your one-sided nonsense. Of course, you would see anybody who takes issue with your pious, holier-than-thou positions as being blind to Palestinian suffering (which is breathtakingly arrogant, among other things). I think individuals who think and write like you actually do more to add to Palestinian suffering, in that allow those Palestinians with zero-sum goals (e.g. Hamas and many in Fatah as well) to believe those goals are attainable, and avoid a reasonable settlement with Israel. YOu go on and on about the "occupation," but never offer a solution as to how that occupation might end, without Israel giving up its Jewish identity, and this in a sea of self-defined "islamic" states. So I don't need lessons in balance, fairness or morality from the likes of you. Get stuffed. This conversation is over.

10:58 AM  
Blogger ahmed said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:56 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"But in the real world Israel' crimes as well as record of bloodletting supercede Hamas by such a great magnitude, on top of the fact that they are occupying and dispossessing Palestinians"

Well, Israel is not occupying Gaza.

I understand your objection. There were not enough dead Jewish babies to justify Israel's effort to prevent the murder of Jewish babies. Israel, after absorbing 8,000 qassams over years was supposed to sit and wait until Hamas improved the quality of their qassams enough to manage to kill more Jews before being allowed to retaliate.

What's Mikael's number? How many dead Jews and dead Jewish babies would justify a retaliation and pre-emption? 100? 1000? 1,000,000? Does he have the guts of his convictions to name a number?

12:59 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"...offered Israel full normalization for a withdrawal to the 1967 borders."

Why was it not accepted? Do you have a precise answer to this question?

1:00 PM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

allah allah ahmed is 40!

Of course, no doubt you're just as incensed by the Egyptian blockade of Gaza. As for israel's neighbors, yes Jordan and Egypt are American allies of sorts. But Hezbollah, Hamas, Saudi Arabia and of course Iran, which backs the 2Hs, are explicitly defined as Islamic movements/states.

I agree all the darkness is not on one side. Would that your side would agree. Ah yes, the saudi offer: did it also include the "right of return"? That's a deal-breaker for obvious reasons.

2:02 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Ahmed is banned from here. Long ago.

Mikeal is close to it.

I'm thinking maybe he's Ahmed anyway.

2:46 PM  
Blogger mikeal said...

On a different track I have some thoughts about the LRB article, too. I'm still not convinced by Benn Michaels on this-he writes about the African-American woman president of his university as if it is the norm. Most likely the African-American woman cleaning the office is the cousin or sister of the president. I think my point is that for many of the "marginally" well-off African Americans they still occupy a precarious position-for instance while African American women may statistically earn more than white women-they more often are responsible for grandchildren, nieces and nephews. They may have brothers, sisters and uncles who are incarcerated largely due to the intersections of race, class & sex. Benn Michaels and others who are critiquing multiculturalist discourse seem to have never whole heartedly understood the complexity of intersectionality.

8:42 PM  
Blogger Fabián said...

What a patience you have Terry, with this Mikeal!

Ban him and let him stew in his own poison writing a blog nobody will read.

Most people don't like to read poison, and that is all Mikeal has to offer.

2:48 PM  
Blogger mikeal said...

A troll is actually someone who adds only insults and personal attacks to blogs they participate in choosing to call people "poison" instead of engaging in a debate. I may hold a minority position on this blog-- which I don't mind-- but I'm contributing to the debate. You on the other hand judging by your pathetic comment are a troll. Weak, pal

8:17 PM  
Blogger Dave Zeglen said...

I'm sure this thread is more or less dead by now, (or should be), but I thought I'd share another ludicrous BDS campaign.

Is not even TIFF protected from being cannibalized by boycott?

"Against stupidity, the gods themselves struggle in vain."

5:51 PM  
Blogger mikeal said...

Since Dave brings it up, Naomi Klein has published a deeply moving, morally honorable and smart defence of the "Toronto Declaration" in yesterday's Globe and Mail. It's really a must read

12:38 PM  
Blogger Dave Zeglen said...


I'm responding back to you out of sheer curiosity. What exactly was "deeply moving, morally honorable and smart" about her defense?

She really only says two things that make any sense, obvious as they are, which is that (a) she'snot writing in support
of a boycott, and that (b) she admits its silly to suggest that the Israeli government controls TIFF, which is just stating a fact (TIFF did not accept any Israeli money). Otherwise, her diatribe
amounts to what Sartre would call 'nothingness.'

Honestly, without cheating, did you even bother to look at the programming of the festival?

"City to City" is but one program out of 19 other festival programmes at the festival, meaning
that the films from Tel Aviv (ten) constitute a small fraction of the overall programming,
which happens to include several films made by Palestinians, Egyptians and Lebanese filmmakers. Hardly the one-sided portrayal of the Middle East so common to whining protesters.

Klein asserts it's a "spotlight... celebrating the city in isolation - without looking at Gaza."
No shit, the program is "City to City" focusing on specific urban issues in Tel Aviv, which,
if she bothered looking at the programming, would understand that the films programmed
have little to do with "Israel's prettier face" save some Bauhaus architecture in the mise-en-scene, which, one could argue, is artistic irony, depending on the film. For example, of the films, "Jaffa," is an illuminating look at the difficulties and hardships between Jewish and Arab romance, and the inherited discriminations on both sides. Obviously, how can one talk about Tel Aviv without talking about the old port city, a gateway between Arab and Jewish cultures.
She seems to want to embrace the films, going so far as to recommend them, but not its collective screening nature or its actual artistic merit.

Is there going to be the same amount of fervent protest and vitriol if TIFF next year decides to spotlight a Chinese city?
No doubt, next year, and the several years to follow, TIFF will spotlight other major cities in their "City to City" program
around the world (maybe even Ramallah or better - Nablus, Inshallah) and I'm sure the programming for those cities will also examine the difficulties, complexities and tensions of the history of those cities.

Her stance, and support of it, will only drive Israelis into the arms of the right-wing because they will think the world is out to get them,
and that's obviously not a road to peace. Her rhetoric along with the BDS campaign only divests attention away from more significant,
and harder to answer questions about the conflict.

3:59 AM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

Dave Zeglen: good points, but a waste of time trying to persuade mikey, who hears and sees only evil from the Israeli side, and only from the Israeli side.

For his next trick, Mikey will denounce Israel's appropriation of the Palestinians' cultural heritage in taking control of the Dead Sea scrolls and the newly discovered treasure trove of coins minted by Bar Kochba's short-lived govt., even though the scrolls were written by a Jewish sect, the coins were issued by a putative Jewish state, and Bar Kochba is a well-known figure in Jewish, not Palestinian or Muslim history.
(I know he hasn't brought this up, so I thought I would save him the trouble:)

11:53 AM  

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