Friday, October 12, 2007

So that's what they mean by "Israeli Apartheid"

Is still one step forward.

UPDATE: David over at Harry's Place nominates the PACBI "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions" reactionaries as deserving of at least some of the blame for this: "That is why the boycott movement is the enemy of the Palestinian and Israeli peoples. And this is also why this scum must be fought politically wherever we encounter them - in our unions, in the media, and in the street - until they are defeated."


Blogger ahmed said...

It should be remembered, first of all, that boycotts are not about individuals. They are a tactic used to change specific policies---in this case, the illegal military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and the stifling consequences the occupa¬tion has had on the Palestinian population, including academics and students.

>From 1988 to 1992, all schools and universities in the occupied territories were shut down by military order, and a whole genera¬tion of Palestinians was deprived of its right to education. Since 2000, a more subtle policy has been put in place. Travel restrictions make it impossible to attend a university unless you live within walking distance. Roadblocks, checkpoints, and curfews disrupt schedules, and make it impossible to plan the academic year and hold examina¬tions.

Because foreign aid has been withheld, and tax revenues are likewise withheld (Palestinian taxes are collected by Israel, which is supposed to transfer them to the Palestinian government, but refuses to do so), the universities cannot get funds and many students cannot afford tuition fees. One conse¬quence has been that professors have gone unpaid for many months. Now Israeli authorities are denying visas to foreign academics who wish to teach in Palestinian universi¬ties, and even to Palestinians who have lived and taught there for many years but who hold a foreign passport.

These are just a few examples of the extreme difficulties faced by Palestinian academics and students, and a few reasons why the presidents of Palestinian universities have repeatedly called for interna¬tional support.

In forty years of military occupa¬tion, there is no record of an Israeli university standing up for the rights of Palestinian universities. To be sure, there are voices of opposition within academia in Israel, and we admire them, as we admire the courageous Israeli journalists, such as Amira Hass, who give a voice to those who live under occupation, and the soldiers who refuse to serve in the occupied territories.

As stated above, a boycott is directed at institutions, not individ¬uals. It might mean, for example, refusing on moral grounds to give a seminar at the College of Judea and Samaria, which was established by Bar Ilan university on occupied territory, yet at the same time might permit collaboration with individual academics from Bar Ilan university itself.

Some of the undersigned participated in a boycott of Soviet universities, one aim of which was to coerce the Soviet government into allowing Jewish academics to emigrate to Israel, and we are proud of having done this. A boycott of Israeli universities, to coerce the Israeli government into allowing the Palestinian population its right to education, certainly needs to be discussed, and cannot be condemned offhand. As President Toope says, one purpose of a university is “to provide a free forum for ideas, popular or otherwise”. We feel that President Toope has begun that discussion on this subject, and we would like to see it continue.

1:51 PM  
Blogger ahmed said...

I had some trouble posting the entire statement which was writeen by some prominent local folks in response to UBC's boycott postion. I should mention that it was signed by Gabor Mate, the renown doctor who works in the DTES, a child of a holocaust survivor, who, im sure, in Terry Glavin's view is nothing more than a raging anti semite. That the Israeli courts choose to uphold the rights of Palestinians from time to time is a good thing and no doubt the work of amazing civil society groups in Israel against sate sanctioned racism. But to allow small victorie4s to overlook the fact that--Palestianisn live everyday under a grossly cruel and illegal occupation, where settlements are continuing to grow, where montrous walls condemend by international law still stands, where there are roads and neighbourhods for jews only built on land which has been colonised--is, im sorry, ratrher disgusting and vile especially from someone who has shown such compassion and integrity towards the cultural theft and dislocation suffered by the aborignal people here. Shameless stuff, terry

2:04 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...


I was paying very close and empathetic attention until you told me you were sure I would regard Gabor Mate as "nothing more than a raging anti semite." When you tell me I'm "disgusting and vile," you leave me with absolutely no interest in anything you have to say for yourself.

Great work, Ahmed.

Keep it up.

8:33 PM  
Blogger ahmed said...

Is your response intended to be ironic? As if you're unaware that you engage in simple minded smears against those of us who support the boycotts, those of us who are in solidarity with Palestinian national rights because the struggle is fundementally just and humane. Instead of launching into these kind of diatribes why don't you engage the arguments of people like Gabor Mate, of Joel Kovel of Desmond Tutu. If you're sincerely interested in the realities which face Palestinains on the ground in the occupied territories than surely you'd read the lenghthy and copiously documented reports produced by Amnesty International, B'teselem, Human rights Watch Israel and others. They all show flagrant violations of international law, on occupied land, an overwhelming display of force against a people who are impriosned by walls, checkpoints and colinial settlements. This doesn't excuse the Palestinian leadersship nor suggest that suicide bombings are anything but vile but there is simply no equivalence in power between the two sides. That the suffering and genocide of jews in Europe has been used to justify the oppresion of Palestinians is indeed a tragedy. What do you propse to do about this injustice? When people cancel talks by Desmond Tutu because he has compared the situation faced by South African blacks to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza do you not see that there is a pernicious attempt to stiffle debate on this issue. In reality, not rhetoric, it's the Palestinians who have had thier villages wiped of the map, who have been uprooted, made to live in what Chris Hedges call prisons, they have had international law on their side, but the world at large has been unable and unwilling to enforce it. That none of the various peace plans has halted the march towards what people have called the politicide of Palestinian people. Instead of engagin g in smears why don't you speak to these realties for a change


12:13 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Smears? I think the boycott campaign is stupid and wrong (it's also a complete failure, by the way), and it's selfrighteousness in the extreme to claim, as you do, that people who oppose the boycott are not in solidarity with the Palestinian national rights.

As for "diatribes," you've written more here than I've ever written on the subject. You don't help your case at all by recommending I read Desmond Tutu on this, and Joel Kovel? Chris Hedges? What were you thinking?

Did it ever occur to you that when people completely disagree with you and your failed politics it might not be because they haven't read enough Human Rights Watch reports? It might actually be because you're politics are horrible and your position is untenable.

When you say "the suffering and genocide of jews in Europe has been used to justify the oppresion of Palestinians" it becomes clear that you're the one who should be doing a little more reading. You've got it backwards. The oppression of Palestinians is being used to justify calls for the elimination of Israel.

There's nothing "pernicious" about noticing this, Ahmed, and I don't know anyone who's trying to "stifle debate" about One Voice except your friends at PACBI.

Go and lecture someeone who's prepared to put up with that crap. I'm not.

7:49 AM  
Blogger ahmed said...

So my politics are "horrible", my position is "untenable" yet you continue to avoid any substancial discussion about what's going on. You have no time for Joel Kovel, Edward Said and Desmond Tutu yet you provide a link to the renown expert Irshad Manji. Did you happen to read the Times op-ed by this moral paragon titled “How I learned to love the wall”? Where she sings the praises of Israel’s little ghetto. I didn’t know that human rights fighters and pop "refusniks" favored caging in human beings. Live and learn, I suppose. I don't know too much about one voice but I have heard some valid criticisms about the ay it basic violates of Palestinains national rights, codified in international law, much like the unfair Oslo agreements which allowed Israeli settlemetns to double, which expanded the occupation and which Im almost sure you supported. Are you totally unaware that Desmond Tutu's lecture was canceled in the states recently because so called the Israel right of wrong folks could not accept his critic of the crimes committed by Israel. This is Desmnd Tutu for gods sake. Does that not rile you that someone with his record, his history of courage and compassion can be silenced because he raises unpopular truths. There wasn't a day that went by when Edward Said did not get death threats. Critics of Israel are regularly bullied, their free speech threatened simply as a way of stiffling debate. Do you not see this. As for who is wiping whom off the map, surely it's time you get serious. It was an Israeli prime minister, golda meir, who sayed there is no such thing is the Palestinians. It was illegal to even fly a Palestinians flag before several decades ago. Most serioius historians, including zionists like benny Morris, will tell you an ethnic cleansing occured in 1948, they will tell you that hundreds of Palestinian villagers were cleared of its inhabitants The facts are no longer debatable. The Israeli state was (and is) commited to a jewish majority on top of Palestianin land. WHat kind of state but a kind of ethnic exclusive or racist one gives more rights land/protection and law to a settler because ones religion than a palestinian who has been dispossese on that very land, who can trace their lineage there for several generations. THis are serious issues that demand a serious and committed discussionm which im sad to say is lacking here

9:35 AM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Martha Nussbaum on the selectivity of moral outrage in the "boycott Israel movement":

"I am made uneasy by the single-minded focus on Israel. Surely it is unseemly for Americans to discuss boycotts of another country on the other side of the world without posing related questions about American policies and actions that are not above moral scrutiny. Nor should we fail to investigate relevantly comparable cases concerning other nations. For example, one might consider possible responses to the genocide of Muslim civilians in the Indian state of Gujarat in the year 2002, a pogrom organized by the state government, carried out by its agents, and given aid and comfort by the national government of that time (no longer in power). I am disturbed by the world’s failure to consider such relevantly similar cases. I have heard not a whisper about boycotting Indian academic institutions and individuals, and I have also, more surprisingly, heard nothing about the case in favor of an international boycott of U.S. academic institutions and individuals. I am not sure that there is anything to be said in favor of a boycott of Israeli scholars and institutions that could not be said, and possibly with stronger justification, for similar actions toward the United States and especially India and/or the state of Gujarat."

Andre Glucksmann on selective moral outrage in the Rococo Left and the Arab world:

"The outrage of so many outraged people outrages me. On the scales of world opinion, some Muslim corpses are light as a feather, and others weigh tonnes. Two measures, two weights."

The point I'm making is that according to Ahmed, there are no human rights, only Palestinian rights, which seem to trump any other people's basic rights.

10:06 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...


Some reading for you now. Read the centrist's comment. Read Glucksmann. Read Nussbaum. And read the news.

Tutu was not "silenced." He's a Protestant archbishop with a commanding pulpit, and a Catholic university decided not to invite him to speak because they thought Jews would be offended; the Catholics realized their dumb mistake and reinvited him. Tutu can't hail a cab without it ending up on page one, so he's hardly silenced in the first place, and all this business about critics of Israel being silenced is rubbish. Tutu didn't come under fire because he's a "critic of the crimes committed by Israel," he came under fire for uttering statements that fit perfectly the EU definition of antisemitism: "Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis. . .holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.”

Read Manji, too, since you're citing her. She has fiercely condemned the illegal settlements in the West Bank and other crimes committed against the Palestinians, but she doees not deny that Muslim women are more free in Israel than almost anywhere else in the so-called "Muslim world," and she's right to point out that "Israeli apartheid" is a damn fool way to describe conditions in which Palestinian Arabs are allowed to vote - they got the vote in Israel before they got it anywhere else - and Arabs can and do run for office (including Arab women, most noticeably), and Israel has awarded its top literary prize to a Palestinian Arab, and Israel is more successfully bilingual than Canada is, and Arabs freely attend Israeli universities.

I fully support an independent Palestinian state, I support the just struggle of the Palestinians for freedom, and I have said so, publicly, and I have written explicitly to that effect.

I don't need your insults or your history lessons. You are not qualified to lecture me about anything.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

And another thing, Ahmed. You cited Edward Said. You might want to actually read him, too. Ditto Tutu. Said wrote: "Israel is not South Africa".

12:00 PM  
Blogger ahmed said...

Do you "fully support" the transformation of Israel from an racially exclusionary state, one where a jew by virtue of their religion has more rights to land, water and the law where someone can move from anywhere in the world and then live in a subsidised colonia settlemtment--into a democratic state which fully admits that it was born through an ehtnic cleansing. Thjat's the kind of struggle waged by people like Tutu who had far more courage than you any bestselling author will ever be able to muster. To support a "palestenian state" is to say nothing about what that state willl look like. It is not to address the real, lived history of Palestinians which has been concealed and lied about for far too long. The tide, though, is turning against that narrative. The dfebate is far more open now and Im guessing that's what you fear

12:05 PM  
Blogger ahmed said...

What on earth gives hack organizations in the US, who make the worst sort of apolgies for state trerror the ability and arrogance to speak on behalf of jews or to say that Desmoond Tutu is offensive. Where on earth is their basic sense of dignity. And when folks like Ariel Sharon evokes the suffering of Jews in Europe to justofy grotesque military operations against an imprisoned people is he npot offending the memories of those who were in the concentration camps. When an Israeli minsiter several years ago described the condiotns of gaza and the west bank as similar to the jewish ghettoes in europe was that "anti semitism" as defined by your absurd EU defintion (i love it ho former colonial powers now offer up the defining categories when in comes to racism)

12:18 PM  
Blogger ahmed said...

This is from Justin Podur scathing and insightful critique of Manji, which addreses her willful distortion of Said's position

As part of a multi-page long section (pp. 116-123) of rhetorical questions intended to refute the idea that Israel is an apartheid state, Manji quotes Said as evidence: "Even the eminence grise of Palestinian nationalism, Edward Said, states flat out that 'Israel is not South Africa…' How could it be when an Israeli publisher has translated into Hebrew Said's seminal work, Orientalism?"(4) . But the very article Manji cites explicitly says Israeli is an apartheid state. A fuller version of the quote is as follows:

"Israel is neither South Africa, nor Algeria, nor Vietnam. Whether we like it or not, the Jews are not ordinary colonialists. Yes, they suffered the holocaust, and yes, they are the victims of anti-Semitism. But no, they cannot use those facts to continue, or initiate, the dispossession of another people that bears no responsibility for either of those prior facts. I have been saying for twenty years that we have no military option, and are not likely to have one anytime soon. And neither does Israel have a real military option. Despite their enormous power, Israelis have not succeeded in achieving either the acceptance or the security they crave."

Just a few paragraphs below this, Said says:

"What Azmi Bishara and several Israeli Jews like Ilan Pappé (4) are now trying to strengthen is a position and a politics by which Jews and Palestinians inside the Jewish state have the same rights; there is no reason why the same principle should not apply in the Occupied Territories where Palestinians and Israeli Jews live side by side, together, with only one people, Israeli Jews now dominating the other. So the choice is either apartheid or it is justice and citizenship."(5)

12:26 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Ahmed, no, I don't demand that Israel commit suicide. Isn't there some Arab country that you can scream about for a change?

12:26 PM  
Blogger ahmed said...

While we are exchanging links here's a wonderful obituary for the late Israel Shahak written by Christopher Hitchens.I remeber reading it and breaking down, cryinbg at the time. I still think it eloquantly gets to the crux of the matter

12:29 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

I was familiar with the Hitchens' essay, and yes, it was very moving (I have never been able to finish reading anything by Justin Podur because my eyes glaze over by the second paragraph, sometimes the second sentence).

I neither know nor care which "hack" organizations hold an opinion that Tutu is offensive. My own opinion is that the "offensive" remarks he made were indeed ill-considered and intemperate.

Nothing you have said convinces me that I am in any way in error to stand in solidarity with One Voice.

1:56 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"The tide, though, is turning against that narrative. The dfebate is far more open now and Im guessing that's what you fear"

The history of Zionism is well known and recorded. There are no secrets, anywhere. The timeline of Zionism is also well known. Said 's single, greatest achievement was in making it a Holocaust Versus Nakba narrative. He was successful, up to a certain point. Not because he was right, but because his own particularist politics happened to coincide with a greater, just, universal narrative of post-Colonialism.

I think you are wrong in your expectations, simply because there is a truth that is available through historical records, and there is a limit to what mythology can achieve for a people like the Palestininans. You can make some gains, with lies, distortions, manufactured atrocities. But eventually, the world which you so count on, will get weary of the Palestinians, their perpetual passive-aggressiveness, their refusal to compromise and thus end their own suffering.

There is a lot of sympathy for suffering, but not so much when the suffering is seen as self-inflicted.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Good one, Centrist. But this:
"Said 's single, greatest achievement was in making it a Holocaust Versus Nakba narrative."

A case might also be made that Said's greatest lasting impact was the fatally toxic effect of his "scholarship" upon the entire field of Arabist and "Eastern" studies, which by his lights was never anything more than an intellectually retrograde enterprise:

10:17 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

On a strictly personal level, I find this toxic methodology most unforgivable in what he did to Jane Austen. The most visual bowdlerization of which is manifest in the film version of "Mansfield Park", with none other than Harold Pinter in the role of a slave-owning English gentleman. Don't even get me started on that.

8:23 AM  
Blogger ahmed said...

This is perhaps the most important paragraph in the Hitchens pieace, and I think it applies to people like Manji and Glavin too, see thesleves as human rights advocates yet nonetheless equivocate when it comes to Palestine.

"That was well said, and I hadn't at the time read his then-most-recent column, so I didn't think to reply. But in that article he wrote that Chairman Arafat, by his endless double-dealing, had emptied the well of international sympathy for his cause. This is a very Times-ish rhetoric, of course. You have to think about it for a second. It suggests that rights, for Palestinians, are not something innate or inalienable. They are, instead, a reward for good behavior, or for getting a good press. It's hard to get more patronizing than that. During the first intifada, in the late 1980s, the Palestinians denied themselves the recourse to arms, mounted a civil resistance, produced voices like Hanan Ashrawi and greatly stirred world opinion. For this they were offered some noncontiguous enclaves within an Israeli-controlled and Israeli-settled condominium. Better than nothing, you might say. But it's the very deal the Israeli settlers reject in their own case, and they do not even live in Israel "proper." (They just have the support of the armed forces of Israel "proper.") So now things are not so nice and many Palestinians have turned violent and even--whatever next?--religious and fanatical. Naughty, naughty. No self-determination for you. And this from those who achieved statehood not by making nice but as a consequence of some very ruthless behavior indeed."

My own intuition that the kind of "Palestinian state" supported by Glavin and his fellow travellers is exactly the one advocated by the various road maps, mainstream media pundits, "generous offers" by Barak and Ohmert, and the CJC, AIPAC and the various "pro Israel" lobbies, the latter have had a crippling effect on the discourse. It's a state in name only. It's a set of banstutans, with no contiguity, no control over its own borders, subserviant to a milary dominant Israel, cutt off by settlements and road blocks. Anyone who has observed the geographical map and rapid expansion in the 1990's of the very infrustructure of the occupation knows that's pricisely where we are going and Israeli leaders have made no secret of that. Glavin supports the idea that Israel should continue to be an exclusive "jewish" state, which delegates rights based on relgion (odd from a secular leftist) he opposes boycotts yet he makes no altermantive arguments about how to build a campaing of pressure and international solidarity which could have the effect of ending the occupation, enforcing international law, reversing those pernicious "facts on the groud" and striving for equality.

10:56 AM  
Blogger ahmed said...

I'd be remiss if I didn;t include Laila Lalami's, who is a wonderul writer, critique of Manji and others. This should be something like required reading

10:58 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Ahmed, I'm beginning to wonder if both your hearing and your eyesight are going.

"Glavin supports the idea that Israel should continue to be an exclusive "jewish" state" - that is an idiocy. Israel never was an exclusive Jewish state, isn't now, never will be, and only a fool would say I've ever argued that it should be.

The idea that I make "no altermantive arguments about how to build a campaing of pressure and international solidarity" wilfully ignores the very campaign that I do support, which was this very post, which you're here pretending to be commenting on.

It's called One Voice.

12:09 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...


The One Voice pledge has now been signed by 309,404 Israelis and 275,112 Palestinians.

Ahmed: Once Voice is an initiative your PACBI friends want you to boycott.

Have it your way if you like. The world moves on.

12:37 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Ahmed quotes: “It suggests that rights, for Palestinians, are not something innate or inalienable. They are, instead, a reward for good behaviour, or for getting a good press.”

I put it to you, Ahmed, that the very opposite applies.

Palestinians have been coddled and infantilized by the Leftist Media and Far-Leftist voices such as you represent to the point where they believe their suffering is extra-special and unique, and that their human rights need to correspond to this uniqueness. They, and you, misunderstand what the concept “Universal human rights” actually means. And that, as Arendt says, “solidarity, though it may be aroused by suffering, is not guided by it, and it comprehends the strong and the rich no less than the weak and the poor;” Justice and law,” you see, apply the “same rules to those who sleep in palaces and those who sleep under the bridges”.

Michael Ignatieff, in his book “Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry” says:

“Global human rights consciousness, moreover, does not necessarily imply that the groups defending human rights actually believe the same things. Many of these NGO’s espouse the universalist language of human rights but actually use it to defend highly particularist causes: the rights of particular national groups or minorities or classes or persons… The problem is that particularism conflicts with universalism at the point at which one’s commitment to a group leads one to countenance human rights violations towards another group.”

A noble term, which was supposed to uphold an ideal of universal justice, the kind that safeguards the equity and inviolability of all human beings, all peoples, has been warped by different interest groups to the point where it is nearly worthless. Politicization of an ethical principle can only lead to the kind of confused, dislocated application of the term “Human rights”, where some people, like Ahmed here, uses it to justify their support of terrorist activities, implacable resistance to reason and compromise, and a furious insistence that the world come to accept that a unique and exclusive Palestinian “inalienable” right to the annihilate of Israel.

12:41 PM  
Blogger ahmed said...

I'm busy with studies the entire day so i have no time to respond both to Galvin, who totally ignored my own comments and cc. I'll try to do so later tonight. Oh and here's the link for Lalami's wonderful piece

2:53 PM  
Blogger ahmed said...

"that is an idiocy. Israel never was an exclusive Jewish state, isn't now, never will be, and only a fool would say I've ever argued that it should be."

What, then, is the real character of the Israeli state and the Zionism of which it is the fruit? What are we to call a project which, though it boasts of being a “democracy,” reserves 92% of its land for Jewish people? Where one who converts to Judaism or has a Jewish great-grandmother is automatically given full rights to the land while those others whose families merely happened to have lived there for centuries are at best second-class and landless? Where Jews have full legal rights and Palestinian rights have been “temporarily” suspended -- since 1948? Where people have to carry identity cards, specifying ethnicity (a category which may not include the identity of “Israeli”), and that determine how one is treated by the state? Where the territories are laced with “Jews-only” roads? Where political parties that question the fundamentally Jewish nature of the “democracy” are outlawed? And that is afraid to draft a Constitution because it knows it would have to declare itself defunct once it did.

Is there any word for this except racism, institutionalized at the most fundamental level of the state? Is not this the guiding logic of Israel’s militarization, and its mechanism of ruthless expansion and repression--and yes, the prospect of expulsion? Does it not devolve onto society and through the Diaspora, corrupting the emancipatory legacy of Judaism and sowing chauvinism and blind prejudice?

3:07 PM  
Blogger ahmed said...

"Said 's single, greatest achievement was in making it a Holocaust Versus Nakba narrative."

What an insanely uninformed and absurd comment. In almost all his writing on the topic Said always stressed the need for reconciliation, justice and coexsitence. He argued that Palestinians need to understand the pain of the Holocaust and Jewish suffering and Israeli needed to realize that their nation was founded on the theft of Palestinain land. That there are similarties between both the Palestinian and jewish narrative and that it's only through that kind of honest dialogue that we can then begin to move towards coexsitence. That's pricisely the opposite of "making it a Holocaust Versus Nakba narrative" The fact that your absurdly silly comment passes for intelligant debate is part of the problem. Here is Said on the need for coexistence and recognizing the narrtive of others

Second, during the inter-war period, a small but important group of Jewish thinkers (Judah Magnes, Buber, Arendt and others) argued and agitated for a binational state. The logic of Zionism naturally overwhelmed their efforts, but the idea is alive today here and there among Jewish and Arab individuals frustrated with the evident insufficiencies and depredations of the present. The essence of that vision is coexistence and sharing in ways that require an innovative, daring and theoretical willingness to get beyond the arid stalemate of assertion and rejection. Once the initial acknowledgment of the other as an equal is made, I believe the way forward becomes not only possible but attractive.

The initial step, however, is a very difficult one to take. Israeli Jews are insulated from the Palestinian reality; most of them say that it does not really concern them. I remember the first time I drove from Ramallah into Israel: it was like going straight from Bangladesh into southern California. Yet reality is never that near. My generation of Palestinians, still reeling from the shock of losing everything in 1948, find it nearly impossible to accept that their homes and farms were taken over by another people. I see no way of evading the fact that in 1948 one people displaced another, thereby committing a grave injustice. Reading Palestinian and Jewish history together not only gives the tragedy of the Holocaust and of what subsequently happened to the Palestinians their full force but also reveals how, in the course of interrelated Israeli and Palestinian life since 1948, one people, the Palestinians, have borne a disproportional share of the pain and loss.

5:00 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"What, then, is the real character of the Israeli state and the Zionism of which it is the fruit? "

You've got the sequence backwards. First, there was Zionism which began in the later decades of the nineteenth century. Then, some 70 years later, there was the state of Israel.

5:10 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Ahmed. You're statement that I support Israel as an exclusively Jewish state was and remains idiotic for the reasons I made plain.

Don't be hectoring me about not responding to your points. You haven't even commented on the subject of the post, which was mainly about One Voice. And besides, you're wrong - I have responded to your points, although I really don't know why I bother.

As for your last comment, it's a series of characterizations, based at least partly in fact, asserted in the form of a question which I couldn't be bothered to answer since that's not what you're after anyway. And if it was an opinion on Lalami's piece you're also asking of me I don't have one, because I haven't read it, and don't have time to at the moment. It's huge.

At any rate, I'm not so certain that we even disagree all that materially about the conditions faced by the Palestinian people in the territories.

The question is how to respond to the objective conditions that determine their predicament. I'm inclined to the Centrist's way of thinking on this point, to a degree. I'm also of the view that Israel actually isn't wholly at fault in Palestinian suffering, and may not even be mostly at fault.

Citing historical injustices is all well and good for rhetorical and crowd-inciting purposes, but often not so useful in illuminating a way forward.

5:13 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Oops. Sorry. I missed that little "of" there. I see you got the sequence right, after all.

Israel is a democracy, which guarrantees the full rights of all its citizens.

Israel is a Jewish national home, which determines that the weekend is Friday-Saturday, that national holidays are commensurate with the Jewish calendar, the official language is Hebrew, and its general ethos Jewish. Israel gives priority to Jewish immigrants but allows non-Jews to immigrate as well, subject to state approval. There were cases when Jewish immigrants were refused citizenship, on the grounds of criminality.

Let me reimnd you, Ahmed, that it was the Arabs who chose war in 1947 and 1967. They lost the war they declared, and they lost their land. Had they been the side to win, there would be no Israel or Jews in Palestine, judging by the few precedents when Arabs had the upper hand, such as in 1922 Hebron, or 1948 Jerusalem.

Palestinians need to take responsibility for their bad choices and compromise with their losses, get over it. Millions of people were displaced after WWII, where are they today?

As long as people like you coddle their sense of humonougous grievance, they will continue to lose.

5:38 PM  
Blogger ahmed said...

Glavin you really should read Lalami critique when you have time as it's detailed, informed, persuasive, a wonderful read too. I've tried to outline where i stand on the issue of the occupation, thel ived reality of Palestinians and how we got here. I also think that history matters, that the Palestinan narrative has been hidden for too long and that countries the US/Israel power imbalance has for decdes acted as the main barrier to a sensible and just peace, pridecated on international law and justice. I'm still unsure where you stand on these issues as you speak in geheralities which are almost imposible to decode. I'd be interested to hear if you agree on the elementary historical claim, espoused by folks like Benny Morris, that an ethnic cleansing occured in 1948. Also, you say Israel may not even be primarily at fault for the awful conditions, and the dispossesion of the Palestinians. This stirkes me as an unsual reading, perhaps your explanation focuses more on blaming the victim. Can you elaborate on that. As for "centrist" it's really hard to take any of his/her clams too seriously after the fumbling Said Holocaust versus Nahkba claim.

7:31 PM  
Blogger ahmed said...

"You're statement that I support Israel as an exclusively Jewish state was and remains idiotic for the reasons I made plain."

You never responded to my detailed reply and didnt really make any "reasons plain".

7:33 PM  
Blogger ahmed said...

"They lost the war they declared, and they lost their land."

"Palestinians need to take responsibility for their bad choices and compromise with their losses, get over it. Millions of people were displaced after WWII, where are they today?"

I'm wondering how exactly this view differs from the argument that Aboriginal Canadians lost all the relevant wars, were outgunned and overpowered therefore they should shut up about grievances, be thankful for there lot make as little fuss as possible and not seek any retribution. You're making essentially the same argument which has been used to sustain colonial political movements for far too long. I'd be interested to hear if Glavin subsribes to these views

9:50 PM  
Blogger ahmed said...

I'll remind Glavin that the heading of his post concerend Israeli aparthied of which I think I've spoken about at length. Instead of actual engagement I've been met with sloganeering, dismissive attitude,vague generalisities, arguments that so and so is obviius and plain. I'm convinced and have not been shown otherwise that glavin knows very little on the subject and is simply sputing off as a way to carry on his obsessive need to carry on polemical attacks against some vague category referred to as the "left". It's also interesting how he finds Hitchens obituary about Shahak interesting when if you follow his argument( and I use the term loosely) the Hitchens piece violate everyhting he has been saying. It goes, in fact, much further than Desmond Tutu's "inteperate remarks" on that topic I've love to see a tale of the tape, Tutu and all his accomplishments on one side versus our bog host Glavin on the other. That would be fun. As for "one voice" I don't know too much about this initiave but I've read the critiques which are interesting and sensible and I will post one of them below

10:00 PM  
Blogger ahmed said...

Palestinians need to take responsibility for their bad choices and compromise with their losses, get over it. Millions of people were displaced after WWII, where are they today?

10:01 PM  
Blogger ahmed said...

Another Voice is a group of Palestinians and local and international supporters concerned with OneVoice’s attempt to undermine Palestinian rights.

The implications of OneVoice’s campaign are dangerous and we are working to raise awareness about this. In addition to our press releases, which are viewable in the “Discussion Board” section below, we are continually adding new material to explain the details that validate our concerns.

In brief, OneVoice’s mandate and pillars fail to mention key elements required for a just and lasting peace. From justifying settlement blocs to avoiding the refugees’ right to return, the OneVoice campaign avoids the framework of international law, and serves to subordinate Palestinian rights to Israeli interests. Another Voice opposes any efforts that violate Palestinian national and human rights, and asserts that the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian “conflict” is one based on international law and human rights.

Furthermore, we are disturbed by the manner in which OneVoice has been gathering support for their campaign. We are discovering that many have signed on without access to the 10 pillars or proper understanding of the OneVoice initiative. Several organizations that have been listed as endorsing OneVoice’s campaign have informed us that they had not authorized such endorsement and have contacted OneVoice to have their name removed. Most Arab artists have also withdrawn their participation in the October 18th event, after learning more about it.

As a result of the mobilization of the public and grassroots organizations, OneVoice was forced to cancel it’s big concert planned for Jericho on October 18th.

Instead, Another Voice will be having an alternative concert in Ramallah on October 24th, to celebrate our commitment to our cause, reaffirm our opposition to compromising Palestinian national and human rights, and show our support for a peace that is based on justice.

10:01 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

I began to respond to Ahmed's allegations here but decided not to. It's like trying to empty a lake with a teaspoon. Futile to try.


3:59 AM  
Blogger ahmed said...

Speaking of stiffling debate, here's an outline of the very real threats to freedom of expression on campuses in the US. Somehow I doubt Glavin has much to say on the topic

10:59 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

I'm with you in this, Centrist. I'm not going to pursue this discussion either. I'm tired of Ahmed's insults. His mind is closed. He sees only those things that appear to support his case and he refuses to see anything else.

In his worldview, the Palestinian is always the victim, and the victim is always right.It's the same posture adopted by right-wing Israeli extremists.

There's no reasoning with either of these sides, which One Voice recognizes. Which is why I like One Voice and wish them well.

11:42 AM  
Blogger ahmed said...

I'm not surprised that Glavin now plays the liberal card, falls cack on the both sides approach (a view rightly castigated by Hitchens in the aritcle i forwarded) and basically refuses to advane even an elementary argument. i hope that my particiaption here has exposed more than a few things about Glavin. I'll end by quoting Farid Esack because Im reminded that this passage apples so well to the "i'll take both sides" approach Glavin advocates when he equivocates On Palestine. unfortunately he is part of the problem

Post modernist thinkers, feminists, liberation theologians and other progressive scholars have long since debunked the myth of objectivity and insisted on ‘disclosure’ as a precondition to dialogue; tell us about your class and gender interest? What are the lenses with which you view the world? A denial of lenses is really tantamount to the acceptance of a dominant status quo. It’s a bit like the word ‘mankind.’ ‘Oh,’ the supposedly ideologyless argue, ‘why do you want to politicize words and make a fuss about language? When we say ‘mankind’ we really include women!’ Uninterrogated, language often functions as an instrument of subjugation. In this myth of language as neutral, the use of the alternative and more inclusive ‘humankind’ is dismissed as ‘political’ and political correctness, as a fad of nostalgic hippies who have not smelt the coffee heralding the end of the Sixties, rather than viewed part of a quest for greater gender justice – however flawed and inadequate.

When I walk through the districts where sex is on sale; I can choose to see it through they eyes of the ‘sex tourist’ or through the eyes of the sex worker sold into the trade or driven by their poverty and exploitation into it. I choose to look at Palestine/Israel though the eyes of the marginalized and the exploited and I choose to privilege this perspective over other perspectives.

So is it ‘sex tourism’ or ‘sexual exploitation?’ Or worse, is it a refusal to name it and a preference to speak about the seemingly neutral ‘just having some fun’ or ‘relaxation?’ It depends on where you are located in the power structure.

I am astonished at how ordinarily decent people whose ‘hearts are in the right place’ equivocate when it comes to Israel and the dispossession and suffering of the Palestinians. And now I wonder about the nature of ‘decency.’ Does ‘objectivity,’ ‘moderation,’ and ‘both sides’ not have contexts? Is ‘moderation’ in matters of manifest injustice really a virtue? Do both parties deserve an ‘equal hearing’ in a situation of domestic violence where a woman gets beaten up by a male who was abused by his father some time ago because ‘he, too, is a victim?’ Why must someone else suffer because the husband was abused by some other male yesterday?

When we reduce the problem to ‘the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’ – or worse, the ‘Israeli-Arab conflict,’ or ‘the Middle East situation;’ what does it really say about us, our own power interest and our refusal to have our comfort zones disturbed? To describe violence against women as just that risks alienating the male partner. If that abusive male husband is also our business partner, or possibly one’s boss, or one’s primary funder, then things can get really sticky. So we walk away saying, ‘I do not want to get into the middle of all of this’ or we delude ourselves with seemingly conciliatory mutterings without ever addressing the question of abuse.

We are in the middle of it because we do business with the abusive husband (or we profit from his abuse of his wife) and we sustain his delusions that he is OK, a part of the civilized crowd. We seek refuge in ‘both sides have a story to tell’ as a way of dodging our own complicity. Rather than us merely hallowing the abuser with the mantel of respectability, our silence draws us into a web of complicity. (As indeed, can be the effect of an uncritical solidarity with the victims of oppression.) However small a minority they may have been, only those who refused to turn a blind eye to the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis were civilized; only those who refused to be silent were civilized; all others had Jewish blood on their hands. Talking about the ‘Jewish-German conflict,’ or the ‘Black-White situation,’ or ‘marital problems’ in the face of manifest injustice and domestic abuse is no great virtue; it is the path of, initially, acquiescence and, ultimately, complicity."

11:59 AM  
Blogger ahmed said...

Here's another person's experience trying to get around Terry Glavin's contortions

12:16 PM  
Blogger ahmed said...

Correction, this is much easier to link up to

12:19 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

I blogged on that opinion piece, here:

It is unsurprising, Ahmed, that the flawed arguments and self-serving lacunae in the writing by a university prof., who teaches and instructs young minds, escaped your notice. Or maybe you support such rhetorical tactics?

12:28 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Now that's one I will respond to.

The author of that ZNet piece is a sad little man with a very personal and very huge axe to grind against me, which he fails to divulge in that high-school essay of his.
He's someone who desparately wants to be taken seriously, but he's never written anything of consequence and probably never will. That's why it was on ZNet, with the rest of the Truthers and Freemasonry fetishists.

"Writing from relative isolation on one of B.C.’s Gulf Islands" was especially hilarious. I'd long since moved from the Gulf Islands when he wrote that, and when I read it, it came to me in an email that I opened in an internet cafe in Irkutsk. Over the past five years or so I've written from China, Russia (twice), the Republic of Buryatia, Nagaland, Calcutta, Central America, Ireland, Norway, Singapore, the UK, and Christ's knows but the reason it's hilarious is the last thing that little twerp wrote was about how he'd spent the summer away from Commercial Drive or wherever, in Coquitlam, which he found indescribably exotic, especially the big breated women.

And his reference to "the homophobic, sexist, rhetorically-religious anti-imperialists of the Irish Republican movement," Ahmed. Would you have cited his pathetic slander so cheerfully had it referred to "the homophobic, sexist, rhetorically-religious anti-imperialists of the Palestinian movement"?

4:30 PM  
Blogger ahmed said...

That CC would apolgise for someone like Martin Kramer who is not only fanitically anti arab but who has worked alongside orientalist like Danile Pipes to "monitor" campuses, intimidate scholars who teach Middle Eastern history, at the same time pronouncing that &niversities should be in the frontlines of advancing the US war on terror is indeed rather sad and pathetic. As for Glavin question I've never viewed the question of Palestine primarily through the prism of religion. It is about land, dispossesion and competing and often hidden narratives. Ideally im for a secular democratic state for all while you support the racial, ethnic embedded in the Zionst expasionist state. That many movements within the Palestinian body politic are deeply reactionary, sexist, homophobic is indeeed true. But as Hitchens points out, so eloquantly, that doesnt negate their right to self determination nor does it erase our own complicity. By the way the writer in question publishes in many venues, as im sure you know. Perhaps your ego is a bit hurt from taking such precise and cogent abuse from a lad in his mid twenties

5:24 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"As someone with a degree in Middle East History and Islamic Studies (take that, potential employers!), I’ve often likened reading Glavin’s writing on the Muslim world to a trained biologist’s being made to listen to a Young Earth theorist."

I'm wondering. Would Charles Demers extend the same condescending derision to that famous linguist who keeps drifting further away from generative grammar, or upon Edward Said, who wandered far afield from English Literature? Both these scholars have been writing about the Muslim world, without the benefit of Demers' credentials. I think not, to judge by this panting paean to the great one himself:

"But even a shrinking violet such as myself was unable to resist the allure of the low-frequency celebrity bestowed upon me as a result of the wild privilege I enjoyed a year ago this weekend in getting the chance to introduce famed commielinguist Noam Chomsky to more than twenty-thousand Vancouver anti-war protestors oozing an effusive vibe not unlike that captured by Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now: “He’s a poet-warrior, man!” For months after the event, I was semi-regularly recognized by passers-by and fellow bus-riders, like the guy who exclaimed excitedly on the 99 B-Line: “I know you – Noam Chomsky Day, right?”

Indeed, pathetic.

5:35 PM  
Blogger ahmed said...

Thanks CC. I now understand that Edward Said, who wrote Orientalism, a groundbreaking book, who speaks Arabic who authored hundreds or articles for the Arab press and Chomsky has an extensive body of work and has been writing about Israel and Palestine for decades both are equal in terms of knowledge and credentials as Terry Glavin who shows no signs at all of knowing what he is talking about with regards to the palestinians in aprticular and the Arab world as a whole. Im so much wider for sharing that CC. Wow! The irony here is that I toolk out Terry's excellent book on residential schools last summer and was deeply moved. I respect him quite a bit. On this topic he equivocates and is quite frankly rather pathetic in engaing those he chooses to slime

8:46 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Just as I thought, Ahmed, the dramatic irnoy of Demers' hypocrisy escapes you completely. Too bad you can't resist the ad-homs. It's a rhetorical fallacy, you know. Why not google and find out when do people resort to ad homs by way of debating?

3:41 AM  
Blogger ahmed said...

Am I getting debating tips from someone who advanced the falsely absurd claim that "Said 's single, greatest achievement was in making it a Holocaust Versus Nakba narrative." Or someone who has taken to defending failed scholars like Martin kramer and Daniel Pipes who are engaging in blatantly anti arab witchhusts on campus, whose campaigns have been officially denounced by the largest body of Middle Eastern studies departments in the US. Are you serious?

10:56 AM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

4:29 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Thought I'd round this out to an even 50 (!) comments.

"I’ve often likened reading Glavin’s writing on the Muslim world to a trained biologist’s being made to listen to a Young Earth theorist."

Odd. I've never even written about the "Muslim world." Is it somewhere near Jupiter?

Badabing, tish.

Meanwhile, this - not funny, I'm afraid - written by my good comrade Ami Isseroff:

"The most important Middle East event of October 2007 may be an event that didn't happen. Today was to be the day of simultaneous "summit" concerts around the world by the One Million Voices initiative to dramatize the will of the Israeli and Palestinian people for a peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

". . .Yet this simple and honest expression of the yearning for peace was too much for the hoodlums of the Electronic Intifada, ISM and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. Quite simply put, they are against peace, because it would put them out of business. Therefore, they and their terror groupie friends undertook a campaign of intimidation and lies, that resulted first in the cancellation of the One Million Voices event in Jericho, and then in cancellation of all the events in solidarity. Instead, the terror groupies will hold their own "Another Voices" event, attended by all the so called "progressives," warmongers in sheeps' clothing, who are against any sort of equitable peace settlement. . ."

Read it all here:

8:47 PM  
Blogger ahmed said...

I think that Tony Judt's article from a while back in the London Book of Reviews provides a useful analysis when thinking about Glavin and his fellow Euston cohorts.

1:29 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

London Review of Books.

3:08 PM  
Blogger ahmed said...

Ah silly mistake, thanks for the correction. I checked out the contentious centrist's website which is not surprisingly filled with Arab bashing, gross and silly generalisations about "culture" and apologetics for the Israeli occupation. But I can't expect too much from someone who argues that Edward Said's lasting intellectual contribution was too play the Palestinain tragedy against the holocoaust, which, as i showed, is plainly absurd to anyone with even a little bit of familiarity with his work. I noticed how he backed away from that statement rather quickly. Anyways, I've generated enough heat here for the moment and probably more attention that Glavin deserves

5:30 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Ahmed says: "I noticed how he backed away from that statement rather quickly. Anyways, I've generated enough heat here for the moment and probably more attention that Glavin deserves"

These self-congratulatory boasts reminded me of Milos, from a Seinfeld episode:

Jerry and Milos are playing at the other tennis club. They are watched by a small number of people, including Patty. Milos delivers a weak underarm
serve, and Jerry makes no effort to return it, merely wafting his racquet vaguely in the direction of the ball.

JERRY: Too good.

MILOS: (triumphant shout) Another game for Milos!! Hahaha!

Milos walks to the net to meet Jerry.

JERRY: You're on fire today.

MILOS: (shouting over) Hey Patty. look at this guy. He's awful!

Patty blows Milos a kiss.

MILOS: (milking it) He's not a man, this Jerry. He's not even married like I am. (laughs) Huhuhuhu.

JERRY: (quietly) Hey, uh, Milos, I don't mind rolling over here, but could you lighten up on the 'not a man' stuff?

MILOS: (shouting) Hey everybody, look! The little chicken girl wants me to ease up. He can't handle this, so he cries like a woman! (laughs evilly)


8:42 PM  
Blogger ahmed said...

Why am I not surprised to learn that someone who evidently has so little to say is using a television show "about nothing" as a way to, weakly, frame his point?

9:39 PM  

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