From outside one will always triumphantly impress theories upon the world and then fall straight into the ditch one has dug, but only from inside will one keep oneself and the world quiet and true. /FK (Contact: TBONotebooks at fastmail.fm. The Blue Octavo Notebooks welcomes mail, although we cannot guarantee a response. Your email may be posted in part on The Blue Octavo Notebooks unless otherwise requested.) Please enjoy the notebook entries, and thanks for reading.
Sunday, November 30, 2003
But seriously folks, here’s the latest from Israel Shamir, courtesy of, you guessed it, Saudi Arabia’s Arab News:
…as a rule a Jew is unable to apply Kant’s categorical imperative, to make a universal rule. It could provide a definition of a Jew: “A person unable to make an objective moral judgment”, for the old religious or ethnic criteria do not apply anymore. His judgment will be forever different whether it is good for Jews or bad for Jews. WMD are bad if in Gentile hands, good if in Jewish hands. Nationalism of a goy — bad, devotion to the Jewish cause — good. Equal rights for Jew and non-Jew in Europe — good, in Palestine — bad.
When do the Jews object to political correctness? Whenever it interferes with their Muslim-bashing. The European anti-racist watchdog judged “the focus on Muslim and pro-Palestinian perpetrators to be inflammatory” and liable to cause “civil war in Europe.” But a civil war in Europe against millions of Arabs and other Muslims is a Zionist objective, part and parcel of the US-led war on Islam.
Ho boy, who knew? As you probably guessed, Robert David, er, Israel Shamir is, ahem, an interesting fellow, even when he’s not ranting about “Jewish supremacy” (“Jewish supremacy” is a favorite David Duke topic, too) or making business proposals to Holocaust denier David Irving. But he’s always a delightful addition to the Saudi media. Go figure.
Friday, November 28, 2003
Hmmm, let’s see. Ah, but would you believe that the first entry in the letters section is entitled “Zionist Propaganda”? Of course you would, because this is Arab News we’re talking about. The letter, courtesy of a scholar named Mohiudddin, of Khamis Mushayt, includes the following commentary:
Everything seems to have changed after Sept. 11. The Zionist-controlled American press unleashed a propaganda war against the Muslims, especially against Saudi nationals.
[Dismissal of a post-9/11 lawsuit seeking billions in compensation from Saudi Arabia] indicates not only the fairness of the American judicial system but also demonstrates that truth cannot be suppressed for long.
Unfortunately, this is not case with the press, which is dominated by the Zionists.
The press does not spare any opportunity to defame Muslims. The bias of the media not only distorts the facts but also encourages countries like Israel to perpetrate atrocities on Palestinians.
Another letter, from Ed Friedemann (who seems to be a regular contributor to the letters page) moans about Ariel Sharon murdering children with US assistance.
This is all eloquent and inciteful, er, insightful, to be sure, but what happened to antagonistic remarks and fabricated allegations only spreading hatred and promoting terrorism, and all that? Such lofty sentiments, we hardly knew ye.
The final two letters are full of praise for Arab News (seriously), and the second one notes that “The paper has definitely improved, and I think its improvement signifies not only the development of journalism but of Saudi society too.”
Cool, but imagine what Arab News was like before it was improved! One wonders if this alleged improvement occurred before or after Arab News began publishing folks like, uh, David Duke and delusional rants about Saddam Hussein being a Zionist tool (see TBON’s entry for last Saturday) and the American media being, like, totally controlled by Zionists. Aw, never mind.
Next up: Egypt, a country that has received billions of dollars in aid from the US in recent years, and has even signed a peace treaty with the accursed Zionist entity, er, Israel. As Egypt is generally regarded as being one of the most moderate states in the region (despite, well, you know), it’s always interesting to see what its state-controlled media is pumping out. A good read for this purpose is Al Ahram Weekly, probably the country's best known paper, and which comes in handy when one wants to get to the bottom of who’s responsible for, say, terrorist attacks at synagogues in Turkey.
Indeed, Al Ahram’s editors have put together a Reader’s Corner in the latest issue that includes the following tidbits of trenchant commentary from various readers: “The explosions at the British Consulate and HSBC bank in Istanbul are organised by Israel and the American CIA to move Turkish public opinion to send troops to Iraq”; “Regarding 'Terror strikes Turkey'... no doubt someone like Sharon and his party would sacrifice a few lives of his people for higher political gain and sympathy for Zionists”; “Yes, Israel wants the two rivers in Iraq for its own war machine and nuclear projects”; “Perhaps the ironic twist is that the predominantly non-Semite, Ashkenazi Jews are the real anti-Semites”; “Although there is a lack of democracies in the Middle East, I would contend that the governments in place are just as legitimate…. And although these governments are different, they are still quite credible.”
Well, dang, the governments of dictators like Bashar Assad or Col. Muammar Qadhafi may look a bit funny from the outside, but, hey, they’re legit and quite credible on the inside! If any of this strikes you as a bit, well, nauseating, keep in mind that such folks are merely following the kind of example set by Egypt’s president, who has “permitted rabidly anti-Jewish and anti-American sentiments to be expressed in educational curricula and the state-run media, and has increasingly adopted inflammatory rhetoric himself.”
Ah, but let’s send this moderate country some more billions and divest from that nasty little Israel. That’ll show ‘em!
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
Note: I haven’t updated in a few days because I’ve been out of town and without Internet access. Updates and responses will likely be slow for another week or so because of the Thanksgiving holiday and all that. Two recent entries for The Blue Octavo Notebooks elicited a small flurry of responses, and I’ll try to get back to everyone.
Saturday, November 22, 2003
The good thing about ArabNews is that it’s all in English, so when the Saudi government controlled paper publishes articles by the likes of David Duke and Michael Collins Piper , the evidence is all there in English, and no protestations or excuses can be made about supposedly unfair or inaccurate translations. Usually the ArabNews seems to try to present a moderate front—it’s being read across the globe, especially among Westerners and Americans, after all—but quite often they slip up and show what’s behind the veil of moderation. Be it a heinously anti-American cartoon, a hateful anti-Semitic caricature, a creepy editorial, or a bizarre letter to the editors, there’s generally something (and often more than that) to make one wonder, if this is what the Saudi media prints in English to show the world how progressive and enlightened their country is, what might they be printing in Arabic? Take the following repugnant, hate-filled letter to the editor in the November 22 edition, for example. It’s entitled “Zionist Game,” but one wonders what game the Saudis are playing by using their government-controlled media to disseminate such garbage.
The Baath Party in Iraq was created by the Zionists in France. It is dead against Muslims and Islam. Saddam is a leader of the Baath Party and was used by Zionists to attack Iran. The Iraq-Iran war was facilitated to sell US weapons to both warring parties and make a lot of money from both sides. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people perished in the war.
Later, the Zionists used Saddam to attack Kuwait, and again it was Zionist arms manufacturers in the United States that made billions of dollars from the war.
Because Zionists control media, they can make anyone a hero and blow anything out of proportion. Although President Bush has lied more than Nixon, nothing has happened to him because he enjoys the support of Zionists. President Clinton had survived despite sexual misadventures because his mother and wife were Zionists. He appointed more Zionists in key positions than any other previous American president. They included one die-hard Israeli agent who was first granted USA citizenship in three days and later appointed US ambassador to Israel. So it is all Zionist game.
Anwarul Haque • Islamabad, published 22 November 2003
Saddam Hussein, Zionist agent. Who knew? You just can’t make this stuff up, folks. But imagine a country where such rot is routine fare in the government-controlled media, and you have the wonderfully progressive Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. With friends like this...
Friday, November 21, 2003
As the Palestinian solidarity Conference leaves town, we wanted to reflect back on a few key issues and the many successes of our intensified efforts to educate and activate our students. In summary approximately 200 people attended the conference, with just 75 attending their rally ending the conference on Sunday. This compares to 400 peek attendance at Michigan last year. Hillel had nearly 200 attending its erev shabbat program with Avram Infeld, Interim President of International Hillel, at the same time as the conference opened [note: this means that an event at Hillel that was hardly publicized drew almost as many people, if not more, than the opening session of the conference, which had been publicized for months]. Dershowitz alone drew 1200 [note: and unlike the PSM events, which were free, people had to pay to see Dershowitz!], to say nothing of the numerous smaller events and pro-Israel messages disseminated over the last 10 weeks.
Coverage in the general media about the conference during the past 10 weeks leading up to this weekend was very modest indeed [note: that’s an understatement]. Even the Lantern, the school paper printed one article over a month ago and two letters to the editor. The only time the Lantern covered the story again was today, which we expected. Over the weekend itself there was some coverage in the Dispatch, also as expected [note: as mentioned below, this amounted primarily to three articles, two of which were mainly about pro-Israel activities.]
As a community we showed amazing unity as we worked together. From lay leaders to staff, organizations not only in Columbus but throughout the state lent their support, energy and ideas.
We controlled the message by not creating a first amendment fight.
And, still our work continues. Thank you to all of our friends who have helped us meet our obligation to strengthen the connection of the thousands of Jewish students on campus to Israel [note: this also helped strengthen support among a lot of non-Jews]. These have been challenging time and your support has helped us teach our students to stand up for the values that Israel and the United States represent.
Please continue to checkout buckeyesforisrael.org [note: not to be confused with buckeyesforisrael.com or buckeyesforisrael.net, the redirect pages set up by Joh Lehman of the OSU anti-Israel group; see TBON entry for Nov. 10] as we update our programs including an evening with Ambassador Ross.
I’ve got no major quibbles with that account. The conference received very little media attention, and most of the coverage it did garner was about the pro-Israel activities. And unlike at the various pro-Israel events on and off-campus, attendance at the conference seemed sparse. If you’re interested, you can still check out the conference’s webpage, which still features the bogus Desmond Tutu “quote.” I’m still typing up my account of what I saw and experienced before and during the opening session, and I’ll be posting that account, along with some additional commentary, soon.
Thursday, November 20, 2003
Only problem is, Israeli tanks aren’t American made or made in America. Israeli tanks are made in Israel, by Israeli companies and by Israeli workers. Such rantings about "American Made Israeli Tanks” are just more melodramatic, counterfactual claptrap that look spiffy on paper (especially in messages to folks back home) but have negligible relation to reality. Of course, simple facts never got in the way of the ISM and their ilk disseminating gratuitous propaganda about Israel, and it comes as no surprise that the ISM's tendentious efforts in such regards even extend to polluting the realm of poetry. Oscar Wilde noted that, “All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling.” For the ISM, it appears that bad poetry, if we can even call such efforts "poetry," springs from the usual boorish desire to stigmatize Israel, no matter how underhanded and factually inaccurate such efforts indeed are.
But once again I wonder if this display of ISM cluelessness is deliberate (that is, the people who post this garbage know full well that Israeli tanks aren’t American made, yet are willing to misrepresent such things for the sake of anti-Israel propaganda) or accidental (that is, the people who post this garbage really are so clueless that they think Israeli tanks are American made). Either way, it’s not a flattering portrait of the intellectual standards of the ISM, but we all knew that already.
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
I think this is a superb article. The publication it's in is rather Conservative and rightwing, but the author, Phyllis Chesler, most definitely isn't. She touches on some of the same repugnant attitudes I saw on display before and during the repugnant opening session of the Palestine Solidarity Movement conference at Ohio State the Friday before last. Indeed, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if some cretin had hissed “Yahoodi, Yahoodi” at her (behind her back, of course). I haven't read Chesler's book on anti-Semitism, but from the reviews of it I've read and the excerpt on Amazon.com, it looks excellent. An article about her in The Forward, from last summer, entitled Waking Up the World to a Resurgence of Antisemitism , is another Blue Octavo Notebooks recommendation. Check it out.
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
Ho kay, Karl Marx may have been onto something when he wrote that history repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce. To wit: Tonight I was at another of Todd Appelbaum’s coffee shops, and who should walk in but the fellow who’d been sporting a Palestinian flag as a cape at the Ohio Union two Fridays ago. This second sighting of an anti-Zionist at a Zionist-owned establishment was particularly farcical, since this is the same guy I’d talked with back in June at the Community Festival. Among other things, this scholar (he's a graduate student, believe it or not) informed me that all Israelis are military reservists (even the elderly, the handicapped, the Arabs, etc.?); that Jews and Muslim and Christians got along fine in the Middle East for 1400 years “until the Zionists showed up with their flag” (ever heard of the Crusades?); and that “All the Jews should get out of the West Bank and Gaza, they should get the fuck out” (ah, nothing like advocating Judenrein policy to get everyone in the spirit of CommFest). Later, echoing a favorite slogan of the genocidal terrorist group Hamas, he stated to me, “I want Palestine from the River to the Sea, from the River to the Sea.” That is, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, thus eliminating the state of Israel, and in effect advocating a trifecta of racism, violence, and terrorism. Such advocacy may be free speech, but it is intellectual violence of a most despicable sort. Needless to say, a person who advocates these and other such Orwellian and repellent positions regarding Jews and Israel isn’t someone you’d expect to see patronizing a Zionist-owned establishment; but perhaps coffee and capitalism really do cut across ideological grounds, especially when it comes to asinine, mind-numbing anti-Israel claptrap. Kinda wacky, though. But at least he wasn’t wearing his Michigan Divestment t-shirt. Or walking on his flag.
Anyway, I’m sure Todd Appelbaum appreciates the business and all, but as I said before, if these people want folks to boycott or divest or whatever from companies that are friendly with Israel, they really shouldn't be touching Todd’s products with a ten-foot pole, much less helping occupy the premises. Patronizing a Republican mega-Zionist’s businesses is no way to gain anti-Zionist street cred, although I guess it’s good for a chuckle.
More Zionespresso, mmmmm.
Sunday, November 16, 2003
Saturday, November 15, 2003
For the pro-Israel protesters, all this is something more, because it is connected to larger political spheres and to who they are, who they’ve been, and who they’ll always be. This isn’t something most of them encountered in their first semester at college, to say the least. Granted, there is a contingent of similarly committed folks in the anti-Israel camp, but their campaign against Israel and against Zionism (and, for some, against Jews and Yahoodis in general), regardless of its thrust, is merely one more retrograde campaign among others of the type. For the pro-Israel folks, the central issues and necessities of being pro-Israel operate within the same spheres of immediacy, regardless of whether such folks are countering anti-Israel efforts or the effects of Palestinian propaganda, Arab propaganda, European propaganda, academic propaganda, or any of the other variegated campaigns by which the solidarity movement and its ilk endeavor to stigmatize, delegitimize, assault, or assail Israel, Israelis, and anyone who supports Israel. And for the true supporters of Israel, this isn’t about political or intellectual or religious narcissism, and it’s far deeper than the self-indulgent posturings of subscribing to so-called anti-Zionism (but not anti-Semitism, man!) or fighting for the revolution or sticking it to the man: it’s about standing up in the face of the lies and distortions and malevolence directed at Israel because doing so is the right and necessary thing to do.
Also, as we saw last weekend, efforts like the pro-Israel demonstrations will always be more compelling than efforts of campaigns like the PSM conference and similar agendas, in good measure because the essential and primary tools of the former are facts and truth. The conference campaign and its ilk, on the other hand, rely on half-baked propaganda and decrepit misrepresentations about “Apartheid” and the like. And objecting to such base and malevolent propaganda is not just a matter of being pro-Israel but also of being pro-truth. You may win a few friends and influence a few people with your tendentious anti-Israel quasi-rhetoric, but just as many people, and probably far more, will see through it. Indeed, no matter how loud you chant about “Israeli Apartheid,” you’ll always lose your own argument to the simple fact that, well, it’s not Apartheid, and such self-indulgent, witless claims that endeavor to link Israel to Apartheid merely make a perverse mockery of what Apartheid truly was. You can bewail the so-called Palestinian Right of Return as supposedly dictated in UN General Assembly Resolution 194, but the resolution still won’t say anything of the sort, much less what you so desperately want it to. You can rant and rave all you like about how UN Security Resolution 242 supposedly mandates that Israel turn over the West Bank and Gaza to the Palestinians, but it won’t change the simple and obvious fact that it doesn’t. You can make up all the bogus Desmond Tutu and Edward Said quotes you like, but they won’t make you and your agenda any less wrong or any less craven and transparently opportunistic. And you can adopt as many sanctimonious, pusillanimous guiding “principles” as you please by which to exempt yourselves from decrying barbaric acts of terrorism, especially the self-detonating Palestinian variety, but it won’t lessen the depths of your hypocrisy or the stench of your ideological by-products.
And you can pontificate to your hearts’ contents about how “If it wasn’t for Israel and America violating every international mechanism to resolve this, we wouldn’t have to do this divestment: We have no choice! When people say, ‘How dare I wage a divestment campaign against Israel,' I say, ‘How dare you and Israel force us to wage this campaign!’ We have no choice but to divest from Israel, so we better do a damn good job!” (Yes, folks, that’s an actual quote from the conference’s opening session: You can’t make this stuff up.) We all know that the more general purpose of your divestment campaign is not to persuade universities to divest from Israel (as if any reputable academic institution would adopt such an asinine and hypocritical measure!) but to garner publicity for yourselves and your movement, and to miseducate as many people, especially well intentioned young people, as possible. You will not succeed, and not just because you own efforts refute you and inspire people to oppose your movement and support Israel, but because so much of your program is based on lies and falsity.
Indeed, as Joseph Conrad wrote, “You know I hate, detest, and can't bear a lie, not because I am straighter than the rest of us, but simply because it appals (sic) me. There is a taint of death, a flavour of mortality in lies which is exactly what I hate and detest in the world -- what I want to forget. It makes me miserable and sick, like biting something rotten would do.”
Something rotten, indeed. And so: Fake quotes; false interpretations; out-and-out misrepresentations and distortions; perversions of language; double standards; and so on. Rotten and appalling tactics such as these by which folks endeavor to stigmatize and malign Israel are neither honest nor compelling, and it’s no way to do business, intellectually or otherwise. This is one reason why the OSU Committee for Justice in Palestine’s open petition asking the university to divest from Israel has garnered 439 signatures over the last two years, but a petition against their conference, signed only by Ohio residents, garnered over 10,000 signatures in just a matter of weeks. It’s also a reason why so few people, including the media, wasted no more seconds or ink than necessary, if even that, with the Palestine Solidarity Movement conference.
I’ll post further observations about the OSU CJP, the PSM, and their recent conference tomorrow. Stay tuned!
In a short article entitled “Jewish groups spar over Palestinians’ conference” on page 8 of the Columbus weekly The Other Paper, Kristen Convery notes, “Last weekend’s Palestine Solidarity conference at Ohio State played out just the way the Columbus Jewish community wanted it to—with minimal ink and air time.”
That sounds about right. As this article shows yet again, despite the conference organizers’ efforts to publicize their event, the local media didn’t take the bait. As noted below, the Columbus Dispatch featured just three stories on the conference, two of which were primarily about the pro-Israel demonstrations. This item from The Other Paper seems to be following the pattern of focusing on the pro-Israel demonstrations and only making passing reference to the PSM’s conference. The rest of the short article is about the Jewish community’s response to the conference, and how this response—that is, opting to ignore the conference so as not to afford the festivities any more publicity—didn’t sit well with some folks, including some of the people who came in from out of town.
The disagreement discussed in the article (sorry, it’s not online; so no link) was not about whether to oppose to conference, of course, but simply about how to oppose it. Thus, rather than demonstrating en masse at the Ohio Union, which would have been easy enough to do (and which a lot of folks in fact did), people in Columbus were encouraged to participate in events elsewhere. These events included a large and very well attended rally Sunday afternoon at the Columbus Jewish Community Center. Among other speakers, this rally featured the president of Ohio State’s Student Government, the chairman of the Conference of presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, and representatives from both the Columbus and Cincinnati Jewish Federations. This event drew people not only from across central Ohio but from Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Dayton, and the views expressed and loudly applauded at the rally were hardly substantively different in effect and intention from those expressed back on campus. And, as the article notes, a lot of folks showed up on campus to protest the conference as well.
As I mentioned once before, the PSM does such an effective job catalyzing and inspiring support for Israel—not to mention generating publicity for pro-Israel supporters and their demonstrations and activities—you’d almost think they were Zionists. Heck, maybe they are.
But you know your publicity stunt of a conference was a bust when people are more interested in hearing and reporting about the folks and events, both on and off-campus, local and non-local, that opposed it. Indeed, not only has the conference failed to generate much publicity for itself, but most of the publicity it has generated has been about the pro-Israel supporters at various events both on and off-campus. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.
The OSU CJP will probably bray that Convery's article is just another example of “sloppy, lazy, and intentionally slanted journalism,” but it’s pretty obvious the gig is up. The Other Paper ran a story about the conference a few weeks ago, but their only post-conference story (barely) related to it hardly even mentions CJP’s weekend festivities and is almost entirely about pro-Israel events and actions. Perhaps The Other Paper considered running a separate story about the conference; if they did, and I really doubt it, they decided that Convery's story about public urination was the more important and interesting piece to publish (see page 14). Can't really blame them.
Oh, and something tells me that Convery, like the reporters from the Columbus Dispatch, didn’t waste her time attending the conference, much less registering for it. Ah, the nerve!
Friday, November 14, 2003
Cocked your head to the side and said, “Yahoodi!”
(Apologies to the Barenaked Ladies.)
The fellow who first called me an “idol worshipper” last Friday (not to be confused with his chum who called me a “Yahoodi” behind my back) also informed me that when an Israeli soldier kills a Palestinian, the soldier receives a special lapel pin. No kidding. On a whim, a friend of mine checked with a mutual friend of ours, who happens to have spent some time in the Israeli Defense Forces, to see if there was any validity to this asinine claim.
I am shocked—shocked!—to report that this claim about Israeli soldiers being rewarded with pins for killing Palestinians is utter garbage. Go figure.
Oh, and for the record, his claim that I’m an idol worshipper is utter garbage, too.
Have a nice weekend!
Thursday, November 13, 2003
At the Edward W. Said Memorial Lecture panel session on Friday evening, I found myself sitting near Ora Wise. As you probably know, since it’s almost guaranteed to be mentioned whenever she makes it into the media, Wise’s father is a rabbi (and her mother is a Hebrew school teacher, although this isn’t as often mentioned). Wise attended Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati, where she garnered a reputation as one of the school’s resident protesters. Walnut Hills is easily the best public high school in the city, if not the state, and Ora (for better or worse) is testimony to its students’ and graduates’ reputation for activism and social awareness. Ora was born in Jerusalem, but like her father grew up in Cincinnati. Today, he is the rabbi of Adath Israel Congregation, a fairly old (est. 1847) Conservative (and conservative) synagogue, while she is one of the more prominent and outspoken activists of the pro-Palestinian solidarity movement. After graduating high school in 1999, she attended the Ohio State University for a few years, where she was one of the leaders in the newly formed OSU Committee for Justice in Palestine (CJP). She then headed off to New York, where she appears to have made a career of sorts as the “anti-Zionist daughter of a rabbi”™. Wise was one of the organizers of this year’s OSU festivities, and her name is listed on the conference’s webpage as one of the media contacts. In addition to being active with “Jews Against the Occupation” and teaching middle school students at Congregation Kolot Chayeinu in Brooklyn, she is one of the more prominent members of the solidarity movement, and has spoken at various universities and events in recent months about how awful Israel is, along with the rest of the predictable solidarity song-and-dance about Apartheid and so on. As would be expected, mention of her father’s profession is practically de rigueur in any media account of these and other such activities.
Like fringe (and similarly self-publicizing) ultra-Orthodox Jewish sects like the Naturei Karta, Wise’s limited novelty is not so much her political views (which are hardly unique or even notable) but that she is a Jew—“the daughter of a rabbi” ™, you may have heard—who is loudly opposed to Israel, Zionism, and so on. (In this respect, she is similar to Adam Shapiro, another prominent pro-Palestinian activist who has likewise made a career of sorts as a Jew who opposes Israel, and who is more than happy to talk about himself and his anti-Israel activism to anyone who will listen. But unlike Shapiro, Wise identifies and regards herself as Jewish.) Having the “young, female, articulate, Jewish, and very beautiful” “daughter of a rabbi” ™ mouth the movement’s tendentious anti-Israel claptrap to anyone who will listen is certainly a publicity coup for them, but one wonders how much longer Wise, now in her twenties, will continue to be publicly defined by the movement in terms of her father’s position and the novelty of being his daughter. After all, for a Jew to criticize Israel is hardly as incongruous as one might be led to believe—in fact, it’s not incongruous at all—as a glance at any Israeli newspaper will show. One hopes for Wise’s sake that while she’s laughing and having a good time with fellow solidarity members, as she was Friday evening, that other solidarity folks aren’t laughing at her (and I imagine the fellows who called me a Yahoodi and a godless idol-worshipper, among other pleasantries, on Friday night certainly appreciate her efforts and her “critical attitude” towards Israel and Zionism).
As I’ve mentioned before, whenever solidarity members offer quotes that seem too good to be true—whether the quotes are supposedly from Desmond Tutu or Edward Said or anyone else—it’s always important to double-check things to make sure nobody’s pulling a fast one. As can be expected, statements from solidarity members themselves are no exception, and Wise’s statements to audiences offer any number of cases in point.
For example, in an article about a talk Wise gave last April at Rice University we read, in a comment about Rachel Corrie (who was accidentally killed last spring while trying to obstruct a bulldozer operation), that “People gathered around Corey (sic) to offer help, but the Israeli troops opened fire on anyone who came near, Wise said.”
Well, this account is certainly fascinating, not only because it’s Orwellian garbage but also because it problematizes eyewitness accounts of ISM members, including those who went to Corrie’s side, none of whom mentioned dodging bullets. Probably just an oversight on their parts that none of them remembered to mention the little detail about getting shot at!
In respect to living under curfew, we read that if Palestinians “‘so much as poke their head (sic) out the door,’ they will be shot, [Wise] said. Often, many are shot inside their homes as well, she said.” Further, “Wise also described how Israeli troops walk through the cities randomly shooting inside homes. In extreme circumstances, Wise said, if someone in a family dies, the family members keep the decaying body inside the house because if they go outside bury (sic) it, they risk being shot.”
Again, this is certainly fascinating not only because it’s Orwellian garbage but because, despite being one of the most media-saturated parts of the world we have never read of this Israeli standard practice of shooting anybody who sticks his or her head out the door or of randomly shooting into people’s homes. Indeed, one wonders about someone who can stand up in front of audiences composed primarily of college students and mouth such drivel. Certainly she can’t believe such nonsense (right?), and one wonders who’s feeding it to her and who's encouraging her to repeat it in her talks.
Which brings us to another interesting point: “Wise also spoke about how an organization called the International Solidarity Movement utilizes people from all over the country to offer some sort of protection for the Palestinians.”
(Note: The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is (supposedly) a separate organization from the Palestine Solidarity Movement (PSM), although PSM members have worked with the ISM and ISM members have worked with the PSM. Apparently the PSM is more about “educating” people and the ISM is more about “direct action,” but this could well be a distinction of convenience.)
“Members of the movement are welcomed into Palestinian homes and live there so the Palestinians might be able to keep their house for one more day.” Of course, Wise forgets to mention that this also includes sending “activists” to live with the families of terrorists.
The summer activities of an Ohio member of the ISM offer a case in point. Karl, who is also a member of the OSU CJP (the campus group that hosted last weekend’s festivities), sent a communication back in August from the West Bank, where he had been staying with the family of a recently killed-in-action Palestinian terrorist. Jon Lehman (perhaps taking a break from snarfing up webpage addresses) forwarded his report on August 16, in an email that begins, “As many of you know, Karl is an activist with CJP at Ohio State and he is currently in Palestine spending the summer working with ISM.” I suspect Karl is the same Karl who was soliciting funds for his journey at, of all places, last June’s Community Festival. Karl’s forwarded message explains how Israeli troops had recently shown up one night, harassed him and the family, and then “blew up the [family’s] house.” Karl was quite upset at this, but other relevant issues were afoot here, none of which are even vaguely alluded to in his report.
According to Karl’s account, the family’s son, “Amer Ayesh performed an operation in 1948 near Quaqila 5 months ago in which 3 soldiers were killed.” Ambiguous words like “operation,” when used by ISM activists, are red flags to check the quote. Whether “in 1948” is a typo or solidarity parlance for the West Bank is not clear, but what Karl predictably fails to mention, but what a quick Google search for “Amer Ayesh” did mention, is that the son was a member of the terrorist group known as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and had been killed just a few weeks prior to Karl’s arrival while attempting to infiltrate (along with a colleague-in-arms) the Jewish settlement of Shaarei Tikva in the middle of the night. Needless to say, this midnight infiltration was not done to have tea or late night snacks with the families living there, and the son, Amer Ayesh, was killed in a gunfight before he and his comrade could open fire on any sleeping children or other residents. Karl’s account, for some reason, mentions none of this.
The Associated Press, in a report dated August 15, describes the same home demolition, but with interesting details that Karl omits: “In the West Bank city of Nablus, Israeli troops demolished the home of a militant, Amir Abu Ayash, who was killed in a shootout with troops in May after trying to attack a Jewish settlement. Israel routinely razes the family homes of militants to deter attacks.” A caption for an Associated Press photograph also offers interesting details not mentioned by Karl: “A poster showing PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) militant Amr Abu Ayash hangs on a wall of his destroyed family house in the Balata refugee camp as his little brother Shaker walks behind Friday Aug. 15, 2003….Abu Ayash died last May after he entered a Jewish settlement with a gun killing one Israeli and injuring five more before being shot by the army."
How interesting and convenient that OSU CJP’s Karl just happened to be staying with a family whose son not only belonged to the terrorist organization PFLP but who had been killed several weeks earlier while trying to carry out a terrorist assault on a sleeping community.
Yet Karl had no evident trepidation about moving in with the family of this recently killed-in-action terrorist; the ISM had no evident reticence in dispatching him to live there, despite knowing that the son’s “martyrdom operation” might entail his house being targeted for demolition, thus endangering Karl and anybody else sent there; and the OSU CJP had no hesitation in forwarding his misleading account. (Note: The Israeli Defense Forces, as a deterrence and prevention measure against future terror-suicide attacks, includes house demolition in its strategy to discourage and combat the sort of suicide operations in which the family’s son participated.) Not surprisingly, these are the homes solidarity members like CJP’s Karl occasionally end up in, as posthumous house demolitions are even more difficult to carry out when foreigners like him have moved into the premises, intending to make a stand against Israel’s counter-terrorism measure should the Israeli army show up. Granted, perhaps Karl didn’t know that his hosts’ recently deceased son had been killed while trying to carry out a terrorist assault on a sleeping community. But this would show that the ISM has no qualms about sending clueless college kids into dangerous situations of which they have little or no understanding. No wonder ISM members are required to sign a release form exempting the solidarity movement coalition “from any and all liability or claims, demands, rights, causes of actions, whether known or unknown, etc. etc.” And so all the more reason to keep such groups away from university campuses, not least to protect students from such cynical recruitment and manipulation.
As Karl’s message goes on to detail, in cases such as his the foreigners act to impede the IDF’s counter-terrorism measure, not least by trying to disrupt, delay, lie to, and verbally challenge Israeli soldiers until more of their fellow solidarity comrades can be summoned to the scene, presumably with any many cameras as possible. And if the media can be alerted, all the better! Such excitement can afford great anti-Israel publicity, especially if one of the foreigners manages to get injured, and in such cases the ISM spares little effort in milking the member’s misfortune for as much publicity as possible. (The repeated refrain of Rachel Corrie’s “murder” at the hands of the IDF is but one example, albeit a propaganda bonanza in itself.) One might even get mentioned in the news or in the paper or on the Internet (or on eBay), and to this end solidarity members are encouraged to establish as many contacts as possible with their local (and non-local) media back home before leaving. “If you were born in, for example, Jackson, Mississippi,” reads the ISM’s training pack (on page 26; it’s available on their official webpage (www.palsolidarity.org)), “and went to high school in Dayton, Ohio, even if you haven’t been back to either of those towns in 20 years, those local media outlets will probably be very interested in your story.”
Yes, 20 years.
ISM members are also trained in how to express themselves to the media for maximum publicity and effect, and it is no coincidence that a variation of the sentence "It's clear to me that what I'm going through here is nothing compared to what the Palestinians go through every day" appears frequently in solidarity members’ “reports.” In an account published in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz of a training workshop held in the West Bank for solidarity members, the author explains, “they taught us to insert this sentence into every interview with the media.” And insert this sentence, or some variation thereof, they certainly do, as a cursory Internet search reveals. The ISM’s training manual offers other such formulaic “observations” to pander to the media, as well as information about how to sneak into Israel: “You must play it as though your visit is for other, Israel-based reasons, like tourism, religion, visiting an Israeli friend, etc. So do a little bit of research and put together a story that you'll be able to answer questions about.” Also, please note, “We don't usually recommend people ride Israeli busses!” Oho! After all, it would be bad publicity if a newly drafted ISM member, en route to stand in solidarity with Palestinians, were killed by a self-detonating Palestinian suicide bomber on the same bus. Of course, the solidarity movement would likely blame such an attack not on Palestinian violence (or “resistance,” as they are instructed to call Palestinian violence) but on “the ongoing, brutal Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and lives,” another of their pithy phrases of moral reversal, and one that can be utilized to demonize Israel for just about any act of Palestinian violence.
At the least, all this makes for a melodramatic letter back to campus about the nefarious IDF, especially if, like Karl in his account of the home demolition, one excludes highly relevant context.
Unfortunately, these sorts of actions, such as inserting oneself into the midst of a military operation in order to actively obstruct and interfere with it, on the part of the ISM endanger (and often exploit) their volunteers. Such actions also further imperil Israeli soldiers who, already operating under pressure, now have to deal with the added obnoxiousness and distractions of OSU CJP’s Karl and his ilk, whose actions are intended in no small part to delay the soldiers long enough for people to come and hurl rocks and other projectiles at them. That three soldiers were not killed in the son’s final terrorist operation is yet another fact that is distorted beyond recognition in Karl’s account. But such contextual omissions, semantic hijinks, and linguistic inversions are tools of the trade for this solidarity movement, regardless of the absurdities they often dissolve into.
As I wrote in a letter to OSU President Karen Holbrook a few weeks back, “This disposition for omission and its subsequent discontents were exemplified at last year’s conference when one speaker went so far as to apologize to the audience for even calling Israel by its name. These are the sorts of convolutions and perversions of language (and logic) that will pollute The Ohio State University should its facilities and hospitality be extended to this group.” Based on what I saw at the opening panel discussion last Friday, my prediction was on the money. (Oh, and don’t get the impression that my letter to President Holbrook was in opposition to the university hosting the conference. Au Contraire, ladies and germs: I fully supported the PSM's right to have their festivities on campus.)
Regarding the ISM: Their training manual offers other previews of how such tactics of pseudo-rhetoric are intended to function. It comes as no surprise that the manual features an entire section on “Press Work,” complete with directions for how to best aestheticize and inflate one’s language for maximum anti-Israel publicity. Such instructions include: “When VIOLENCE is mentioned, say RESISTANCE or RESISTANCE TO INJUSTICE”; “When possible say ETHNIC CLEANSING”; “Instead of APARTHEID, say ISRAELI APARTHEID”; and so on. While slogging through this manual of rhetorical perversions, one is reminded of Orwell’s observation that “The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible.” Hence, in the worldview of the ISM and its devotees, we discover that not just Jews but non-Jewish Arabs are victims of anti-Semitism, since Arabs are Semites, and that this newly redefined, fake version of “anti-Semitism” should be emphasized whenever anti-Semitism is even mentioned. This is semantic claptrap that wouldn’t even pass muster at the Humpty Dumpty School of Linguistics—“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty states in Lewis Carrol’s Through the Looking Glass, “it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less”—yet it epitomizes the solidarity movement’s complete and utter disregard for facts and logic. In attempting to redefine the word anti-Semitism, the ISM and others who subscribe to such semantic hooliganism in effect endeavor to dilute the meaning and experience of anti-Semitism, not least by trying to force the word to absorb various contexts for which it was not intended. It is yet another form of historical revisionism indulged by the solidarity movement. The frivolous and self-indulgent bandying about of terms like “Apartheid” and “Genocide” in relation to Israel are similar in effect.
The ISM, whom Wise speaks of, exhibits the same mocking, self-serving attitude towards linguistics and lexicography as it does toward security procedures at Ben-Gurion International Airport (see page 13 of the manual for their insipid attitude displayed toward airport security). This is hardly the sort of intellectual engagement that one would hope to see at a university, yet the ISM not only encourages students to indulge in such semantic perversions but offers them pointers in how to do so more gratuitously. Most of this, of course, is merely more of the same boorish strategy of delegitimizing and attacking the state of Israel. Regardless of whether it’s being done by the PSM or the ISM, it is hardly an appropriate function of university facilities. Luckily, one of the beautiful things about free speech is that it allows such folks to reveal themselves, all by themselves and by their own anti-intellectual and repugnant quasi-rhetoric, as exactly what they are.
Also, although the ISM movement claims, often quite vehemently, that they are nonviolent and do not support terrorism, their actions to deliberately impede and obstruct Israeli counter-terrorism and anti-terrorist measures offer implicit support for terrorists and terrorism. And actions such as I describe above allow solidarity members to hide behind the transparent excuse that, rather than offering support for terrorists, they merely offer direct and immediate support to families of terrorists, including those, like Amer Ayesh, who were killed while carrying out terrorist attacks (and such support likely goes beyond simply moving in with the families of dead "militants" and writing letters home about them and their deceased terrorist off-spring).
Support for the families of dead terrorists, not support for terrorists themselves: This is the same transparent and insulting excuse offered by the likes of Saddam Hussein to justify sending money and support to the families of fallen (or self-detonated) “militants.” Of course, moving in with the family of a recently killed-in-action terrorist, whether he was neo-Nazi or PFLP or Klu Klux Klan or al-Qaida, speaks for itself. Indeed, rather than moving in with any of the families of the thousands of victims of Palestinian terrorists, ISM members, as we’ve seen with OSU CJP’s Karl, move in with the families of terrorists.
Karl even admits that his actions and those of his comrades are intended to facilitate violence: If they can delay the soldiers long enough, Karl explains, “the soldiers will leave because then they get rocks thrown at them during confrontations.” In his own words, CJP’s Karl details how an objective of his actions is to assist other people in carrying out violence against Israeli soldiers. How the ISM movement or OSU CJP can claim to adhere to nonviolence or any other such principles while its members are openly and admittedly working to enable violence beggars belief.
The ISM claims to be a nonviolent group, but (cf. Humpty Dumpty) one wonders what exactly they mean when they use such a word to describe themselves. Indeed: A nonviolent group that dispatches its members (as documented by the Associated Press), some wearing masks, to attack Israel’s anti-terrorist security fence with wire cutters and other tools (how does one nonviolently, much less peacefully, attack a security structure?); that dispatches its members to obstruct Israeli anti-terrorism measures, to pester and endanger Israeli soldiers, and to delay the same soldiers until other, more violently inclined folk can arrive and attack the soldiers with rocks and any other weapons they have (as documented in the message from OSU CJP's Karl); and that dispatches its members to live with the family of a terrorist like Amer Ayesh. Despite all these less than noble pretensions of “nonviolence,” the ISM probably has little concern for the PSM failing to include any mention of peace with Israel on its conference’s website. One imagines any Israelis who have had rocks or bricks or worse hurled at their heads, thanks to the concerted efforts of nonviolent folks like Karl, appreciate the absolutely peaceful, nonviolent efforts that succeeded in putting their lives in even more danger. After all, if the stone-throwers whom Karl and other ISM people were stalling for happened to show up not just with stones but also with gasoline bombs and AK-47s, well, it’s certainly wouldn't have been the ISM activists who would have been behaving violently. Why, they’re nonviolent, and all they’ve done is help facilitate violence.
The ISM offers such doting claims of peacefulness and nonviolence to show that they can talk the talk of such noble principles, but when it comes to actually walking the walk, well, they’re busy vandalizing property, living with families of or shacking up in the homes of “martyrs,” attending rallies that feature terrorist groups, distracting soldiers until people can hurl rocks and other projectiles at them, and so on. Such nonviolence! And small wonder that Adam Shapiro, who has written that Palestinian "resistance" must take on violent characteristics, has been a speaker at the last two PSM conferences.
That the ISM in particular claim to adhere to such principles even while dispatching members like OSU CJP’s Karl to live in the homes of so-called militants (like Amer Ayesh) who died while trying to murder innocent people, is further astounding. But such are the convenient subtleties of “nonviolence” and other such terms, as defined and practiced by this international “solidarity” movement. That such groups might offer up a young Jewish woman to speak for or about them affords them no lesser a lack of credibility.
Indeed, as Alan Dershowitz has noted
It is a fundamental fallacy to conclude that one side of a dispute must be right if some people who are ethnically identified with that side support the other side. For example, the fact that there is a handful of Jewish Holocaust deniers… does not mean that the Holocaust did not occur. Nor does the fact that some Italian Jews supported Mussolini in the early 1930s prove that fascism was right. Yet a staple of pro-Palestinian propaganda is the argument that is structured as follows: “See, even a Jew like [fill in the name] believes that Israel is wrong and the Palestinians are right about [fill in the issue]." This “argument by ethnic admission” is both logically and empirically fallacious.
That the “young, female, articulate, Jewish, and very beautiful” daughter of a rabbi helps dessiminate misinformation and distortions about Israel, and offers information in her talks about people who do, makes such projects no less execrable.
But from what I could tell last Friday, she seemed like a nice enough person, and I hope she’s not being taken advantage of or exploited by a movement that could benefit from having someone like her—the daughter of a rabbi, no less—publicize their cause and their activities. It’s worrisome, though. Wise was one of the featured speakers of last winter’s ISM-sponsored Palestine “Truth” Tour, the organizers of which were more than happy to identify her as “the daughter of a rabbi” ™ but couldn’t be bothered to correctly identify her university. Some “truth.” Some "solidarity." Fortunately for her, it sounds like her family is very supportive of her (even if her folks don’t agree with her about Israel and Zionism); so if she ever does have a heart-wrenching, existential crisis of “The horror! The horror!” at what she’s done, she won’t have to weather it alone. We should all have families who are so supportive and understanding, right?
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
The second post-conference email from OSU CJP also comes from Phil Cogley, and features one of the group’s periodic “URGENT CALL TO ACTION” requests. Apparently they’re not happy that The Columbus Dispatch only printed three articles about their pseudo-conference, two of which were primarily about the pro-Israel demonstrations, and none of which satisfied CJP's high journalistic standards. Dear me.
One Dispatch reporter, Tiffany Latta, “reportedly never made an attempt at speaking with any PSM spokesperson all weekend.” The nerve! The Dispatch’s “Lornet Turnbull did not register for the conference nor did she ever speak with a PSM media representative.” The nerve! Another reporter, Alise Thomas, “who wrote a less biased piece about the conflict a few weeks ago… was initially meant to cover the conference but was pulled off the beat a few days before.” The nerve!
According to Phil, “This all adds up to a picture of sloppy, lazy, and intentionally slanted journalism, and the Dispatch must know that this is unacceptable. Please contact them today.”
Hmm, perhaps I’ll “cc:” them a copy of the account of my "Yahoodi! Yahoodi!" godless idol-worshipper incident.
(Unfortunately, The Dispatch’s archives require payment, but if you’d like to read the articles, just let me know and I’ll email you a superb summary.)
First, a quick but very sincere thank you to all who attended the Third National Conference on the Palestine Solidarity Movement this weekend. The feedback we have received from attendees and organizers alike has been extremely positive, and it's exciting that we were able to provide a forum for the movement in these critical times. The dignity and resilience which were displayed by members of the PSM in the face of such absurd and cynical slander as we witnessed this weekend is something we can all take pride in.
I have a feeling Phil and the gang aren’t going to like the letter I’m working on to OSU President Holbrook, detailing my less than positive experience at the conference’s opening session. Absurd and cynical slander, indeed.
But it’s good to see that OSU CJP’s post-conference rhetoric is as breathless and hyperbolic as it was before the conference. This is predictable, as the OSU CJP had launched its first volleys of just this sort of gratuitous, frenzied rhetoric (which is typical for the group) several weeks ago. An email from Phil on September 10 gushed that the conference “has come under vicious attack by Zionist forces,” whatever that might mean. Oho, but “When Vicious Zionist Forces Attack” would be a great title for a television show, nu?! And, as always, notice the predictably shallow, derogatory use of the term “Zionist.”
The tone of self-importance and self-righteousness that the group’s occasionally jargon-heavy (“Zionists!”) email alerts contain often make me suspect that the group is filled with folks like this and this.
Anyway, the group’s post-conference discussion on what a farce and a failure, er, smashing success the “amazing weekend” of the conference was should be interesting. I wonder if the bogus Desmond Tutu quote on the conference's webpage will be mentioned, or the fact that, thanks in part to their conference, OSU issued a statement that the university will not be divesting from Israel or even considering it. Stay tuned, sports fans.
In related news, the OSU student paper had an editorial about the conference in Monday’s paper. Decent enough editorial, but they state, “OSU had more courage than Rutgers University which refused to hold the conference because Jewish leaders protested.”
Ahem. In fact, the conference was moved to OSU not because Rutgers refused to have it but because the PSM refused to have it there. Their decision to move the conference was in response to dissension within their own ranks, not because Rutgers refused to host them. The alternative conference to the OSU conference that was to be held at Rutgers was moved off-campus after Rutgers nixed it, but not in the face of protests from Jewish leaders but because the organizers were too incompetent to file their paperwork correctly or on-time. ‘Twas the fault of the Rutgers conference organizers, not Jewish leaders, so blame belongs with the former, not the latter.
Monday, November 10, 2003
According to Nahla Saleh, an OSU graduate student in education who served as media spokesperson for the conference, the movement issued “no clear condemnation of suicide bombings, but also did not express support for them, either.”
Gee, no kidding! Well, nobody was really expecting the solidarity folks to come out and clearly condemn suicide bombings or any of the other myriad means by which Palestinians have been murdering innocent children and other civilians in Israel for years now. That they didn’t is a surprise to nobody. Once again, the PSM lives all the way down, er, up, to expectations. Pathetic.
A while back, the OSU Hillel and Chabab House set up a webpage for the Israel Action Committee at The Ohio State University. The webpage's address is http://buckeyesforisrael.org/ .
In response, the scholars over at OSU CJP set up redirects to their homepage for http://buckeyesforisrael.com/ and http://buckeyesforisrael.net/.
Charming, huh? According to domain lookups I just did at WhoIs.net, the addresses for the two redirects and OSU CJP's homepage are all owned by Jon Lehman, an Ohio State student and member of OSU CJP. First lookup. Second lookup. Third lookup.
So it goes.
Folks watching the pseudo-conference might appreciate this anecdote, a recent entry into the glorious annals of The Ohio State University Committee for Justice in Palestine. That would be the local anti-Israel coterie that’s hosting the farce over at the Ohio Union.
Aside: OSU CJP, as they like to be known, are better known as the small group of students who can occasionally be seen at High Street and 15th Avenue, usually on Fridays, holding various anti-themed signs while being staunchly ignored by everybody who passes by. One of their favorite signs, and probably their biggest, is a banner that has to be held by at least two people, which reads in huge letters, “OSU CJP — HOW LONG ‘TILL WE CARE?” Now, unless this is some sort of attempt at subversive, nonstandard spelling, they’ve got themselves a glaring typo about a foot high. Perhaps they meant “’til” or even “until” but who knows. A few weeks ago, being the nice guy that I am, I told them that their sign had a typo on it, thinking that I’d spare them the ignominy of this unintentional humor. But every time I’ve seen them holding this self-promoting monstrosity since then, it’s still had the typo, and now it’s become a bit of a running joke among a lot of folks. Needless to say, it’s embarrassing for the university to have students holding up protest banners with typos. But of course they just had to bring their banner to the Alan Dershowitz talk two weeks ago, where it would have been seen in all its misspelled glory by hundreds of people, and it was probably displayed this weekend. So: How long ‘til OSU CJP stops embarrassing the university with their misspelled sign? Probably until somebody fixes it for them.
Anyway, the anecdote: I was at a coffee shop the Sunday evening before last, and at one point a vaguely familiar looking woman came in. I couldn't remember where I'd previously seen her, but then I realized that she was one of the student protesters I'd watched after the Alan Dershowitz talk at OSU. At one point, she’d been telling one of the half-dozen or so people who’d paid her and colleagues a few seconds of attention that, under international law, all refugees have the right to return to their homes after a conflict and yadda yadda yadda. Ah. I don't think she recognized me, because she sat down right next to me. Of everybody she could have sat by, she had to choose the undercover Mossad agent-in-training.
After a few minutes, I went outside to stretch my legs and walk around for a bit. About a minute after I walked out, she came outside with some guy, whom I recognized as being from the OSU Committee for Justice in Palestine (CJP). They chitchatted for about ten minutes. I made no effort to eavesdrop, but since they were talking rather loudly I couldn’t help but overhear a few things in passing.
Apparently the young woman--I don’t know if she's an undergraduate or a graduate student--or another one of their gang is in a political geography class of some sort. CJP was going to make a presentation to the class, but I guess another student or students complained or something or wanted someone else to present an alternate view to their propaganda, and the instructor ending up scrapping the whole idea. (Bloody Zionists, always ruining perfectly good opportunities for counter-factual indoctrination.)
They said something about the big Solidarity conference set for the next weekend, which has just passed, but I didn’t catch it. Then they mentioned something about an ad they were going to have in the student paper during the next week. Their inane Israel/South Africa/Apartheid advertisement ran on Wednesday. It was so lame I was almost embarrassed for them, and (predictably?) it included at least one grammatical error. Ah, verb tense agreement, what a bitch. But at least they managed to spell everything correctly.
The guy mentioned that he was going to see the film "Bonhoeffer." She hadn't heard about it, and he briefly told her about it. I had just seen it the day before, as a matter of fact, and I highly recommend it. It's about a German theologian and pacifist who was one of the few members of the Church in Germany to oppose Hitler. He was hanged after being caught with a few other people in a plot to assassinate Hitler. The guy didn't seem to have a very good idea of what the film was about, as he thought parts of it were done as a re-enactment. Whatever. Perhaps he'll learn something.
From that topic, the woman mentioned that she'd recently seen "The Pianist," and that she really hadn't liked it. Apparently it was all about the main character being a victim of anti-Semitism, and it didn't go into any of the political or historical context of the period. It was just all about him being victimized and how terrible it all was. Hmmm. Sounds awful. Now I really want to see it. (And for someone who was lecturing other people about how Palestinian refugees have a “right of return” to be complaining about insufficient historical and political context is really rich!)
The guy agreed with her assessment of the film, and chirped that "this is exactly what Finkelstein is talking about." Oho, academic name dropping! She agreed with him on that, and at that point they appeared to have a sort of Hegelian recognition based upon their mutual display of academic profundity. Then they mentioned how the actor had won an Oscar. The guy then made some smart-assed comment about the film getting "Best Actor" but not also "Best Picture": "Anti-Semitism!" he smirked.
Now, granted, I haven't seen "The Pianist,” so perhaps these comments aren't as vapid and repugnant as I found them, but really, w.t.f.? We all know that just because folks like this are avowed anti-Zionists that this doesn't make them the slightest bit anti-Semitic, god forbid, but those comments, as tendentious and vacuous as they were, struck me as a bit troubling. Needless to say, I didn't really like the direction the conversation was taking; but for better or worse at that point they stood up and left.
After they'd left and I'd contemplated this unexpected encounter for a few minutes, I couldn't help but laugh. I mean, of all the people she could have sat down next to, she managed to choose the one guy who just happened to have seen her in full throttle propaganda mode just a few days before.
And not only that, but Cup O' Joe's, the coffee shop we were at, is part of a chain owned by a guy named Todd Applebaum, a local mega-Zionist (he's always sending out bulletins and updates for a local aipac-esque email list he coordinates) and a big-time Republican in Columbus. And the Hebrew articles from Israeli newspapers displayed at Cup O' Joe aren't exactly there by accident. A Jewish friend and I affectionately call the place "Cup O' Jews," yet here were two members of CJP enjoying their coffee and chitchat in a Zionist-owned establishment, of all places, all the while prattling on about anti-Israel politics and the like. Priceless. Granted, Cup O' Joes isn't as high profile a joint as Starbucks (owned by another big supporter of Israel) but if these people want folks to boycott or divest or whatever from companies that are friendly with Israel, they really shouldn't be touching Cup O' Joe's products with a ten-foot pole, much less helping occupy the premises. Buying Todd's merchandise could really hurt one's anti-Zionist street cred, to say the least. Oh well.
Just another bit of evidence that so many of these folks don't have much of a clue about anything other than regurgitating anti-Zionist claptrap.
As I mentioned below in reference to the fraudulent Desmond Tutu “quote” on the conference’s webpage, it’s always important to double-check things when the PSM throws out flashy quotes like this. The only thing I’ve been able to find that’s even remotely similar or relevant to these “last words” is this message from Najla Said, in which she writes: “He encouraged me, from his bed, to ‘continue the struggle, continue...get over your petty personal differences with your colleagues and write and perform and continue, continue unceasingly. Its (sic) in your hands.’"
If anybody can offer corroboration that Najla Said wrote an email in which she stated that her father’s last words were “Fight, and fight hard for Palestine,” please let me know. Now, I'm no law student, but I know that showing Najla Said didn't write something or that Edward Said didn't say the same thing, in the absense (so far?) of any evidence that they both in fact did, presents a bit of a rhetorical conundrum along the lines of "proving a negative." But if those were indeed his last words, you’d think they’d at least show up on a Google search, as do so many of his other statements, right? Right.
I had hoped to contribute an account of this year’s conference, as Haggai had done last year, but after the “Target: Yahoodi” incident Friday evening and then sitting through the ludicrous opening session, I felt dead towards the whole thing. In retrospect, though, I probably shouldn’t have gone in there alone. One of my friends warned me not to, and he was probably right. If the Yahoodi incident had been any worse or if I’d been more than verbally harassed, there probably wouldn’t have been anybody willing to corroborate my statements. Also, I shouldn’t have walked out of there by myself, either, as it would have been easy enough for Mr. Yahoodi-Yahoodi and his mates to follow and try to nonviolently beat the shit out of this kufr. Try, that is.
Another interesting aspect of the pseudo-conference’s webpage, in addition to the bogus Desmond Tutu “quote” discussed below, is that nowhere does the official website mention anything about making peace with Israel. Probably just an oversight, I’m sure, but considering that one of the conference’s guiding principles states, “As a solidarity movement, it is not our place to dictate the strategies or tactics adopted by the Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation,” it’s probably not an especially accidental omission. Of course, they have no problem dictating what the university should do, what the United States should do, and what Israel should do. Go figure.
But now that the pathetic pseudo-conference is dead and done with, and the university's cleaning crews have almost finished airing out the moral stench it left behind in the union, it’s time to evaluate what happened and what didn’t happen. So: As a result of this farce of a conference, has the Palestine Solidarity Movement moved the Ohio State University even half a millimeter closer to divesting from Israel? Nope. Quite the opposite, in fact, as the university has announced that not only will it not divest but that it has no intention of even considering such a move.
Has the PSM weakened the local community’s support for Israel? Nope. Again, quite the opposite, in fact. For example, the local Jewish Community Center hosted a rally Sunday evening that was packed with people from throughout Columbus, as well as folks who felt compelled to come all the way from Cleveland, Dayton, Cincinnati, and elsewhere in Ohio, simply to show their support for Israel.
Did the PSM recruit any new members to its cause? Maybe, maybe not. They might have suckered in a few naïve undergraduates, but based on what I saw at the International Festival on Saturday and the JCC rally on Sunday, they also inspired a lot of people to oppose them and to support Israel. And the latter most certainly outnumber the former. Furthermore, the conference has energized pro-Israel supporters, both young and old, Jewish and non-Jewish, not only in central Ohio but across the state and the country. As I mentioned once before, the PSM does such an effective job catalyzing and inspiring support for Israel you’d almost think they were Zionists.
Did the PSM garner lots of publicity for itself? Nope. There were a few comments on the local news and a couple brief stories in a few newspapers, but that’s about it. Last year’s conference received far more coverage.
Has the PSM further discredited itself and its cause? No! ‘Tis just a mere flesh wound, you coward! I'll bite your Zionist legs off!
Hmmm, I wonder which campus the conference is going to inflict itself upon next year. Originally, the 2004 conference was to be held at OSU, but when there wasn’t enough solidarity within the solidarity movement to hold this year’s conference at Rutgers as planned, they bumped up Ohio State’s turn. It’s doubtful they’d want to hold it at OSU again, seeing as how ineffective and completely counterproductive they were in Columbus and the rest of Ohio. The University of South Florida, in Tampa, is apparently being touted, and maybe not just because it’s the former digs of Sami Al-Arian. Al-Arian was the star of last year’s conference but is currently in federal lockdown, having been indicted on 50 counts of racketeering, conspiracy to commit murder, and providing financial support to terrorist groups like Palestinian Islamic Jihad. I guess we’ll just have to stay tuned to learn who the unlucky loser, er, winner is who gets to host next year’s embarrassment. Yawn.
Sunday, November 09, 2003
Check it out.
Well, I’m not sure what to make of that, but if chuckleheads are going to call me Yahoodi behind my back, I might as well have it on my front as well, nu?
That's a quote from OSU President Karen Holbrook, as reported in Saturday's Toledo Blade. Perhaps I'll write her a letter detailing the incident Friday evening when conference attendees harassed me with personal attacks, the inciting of violence, threats, and intimidation. I think she should know about it.
Unlike the Ohio Union, where Israel, a small country one-fourth the size of Ohio, is being demonized, denigrated, and maligned, here countries and cultures are being celebrated. It’s a really nice event, and I had a good feeling the whole time I was there. Check it out.
Screw the hate fest. Come to the goodwill fest.
Saturday, November 08, 2003
Here’s the email:
I’m a Yahoodi but…
I’m not a Jew, because I’m not religious. Judaism is a religion, NOTHING else, not a culture or an ethnicity. “Read your BOOK, man. Read your Tor-Ah!” Oh.
Well, thank goodness I attended the opening session of the OSU Palestine Solidarity Conference tonight, or I would never have had this identity issue so neatly and simply resolved for me, and all courtesy of several oh-so friendly keffiyah-garbed fellows who obviously know so much more about both myself and Judaism than I do. Thank god that such stellar intellects exist for the benefit of humanity. But goodness, who knew that encapsulating a Yahoodi and several thousand years of Jewish culture—I mean, religion, oopsy, it’s not a culture!—was so easy? Not this Yahoodi. Luckily, I know enough so that when someone calls me “Yahoodi, Yahoodi” behind my back, I know what he’s talking about and can ask him if there’s a problem. Uh, er, umm, eh, uh, no, of course there’s no problem. (Then why did you say it, hmmm?)
You should have seen the look on the fellow’s face. "Uh, you just look like a Jew, that's all." (Yeh, and you suddenly look just like a punk and an asshole, but I don’t have to open my Yahoodi mouth about it like you did, see? Not that I said that, of course. But I digress.) Maybe it’s just me, but spouting off behind the back of someone you don’t even know, whom you’ve never even seen before, because he LOOKS like he might belong to a particular religion (not ethnic group, mind you, but religion) seems rather bad form. And, indeed, if I “look like a Jew,” are you not conceding that Judaism has a non-religious component? Physiognomy might be a component of ethnicity but it has no connection to religion, now does it? Tip to bigots, especially those wearing white and black keffiyehs on university property: Don’t make snotty comments about a Jewish dude behind his back if the Jew--er, Yahoodi--knows what you’re talking about. After all, when he turns around, nods his head, and says to you, “Yahoodi, that means Jew,” the stupid expression suddenly occupying your face might make you look even more like a two-bit bigot than you already are. Plus, next time the Yahoodi might not be such a nice guy. Just a tip.
(Part of me feels sorry for the guy and his mates. It must be rather a craven and sullen sphere of existence where attacking strangers based on what you assume is their religion somehow offers amusement or an opportunity for moral righteousness. I tried to approach this conference with an open mind and a sense of tolerance, yet within minutes I was being mocked and denigrated. Go figure.)
Yahoodi, indeed. I mean, really, where was I, France? Saudi Arabia? No, just the Ohio State University student union.
And this snide little interpellation occurred, oh, two minutes after I’d walked into the building. The resulting conversation with him and some of his mates, while some of their pals looked on in enjoyment, went downhill. One young scholar, who I recognized as being from OSU (she’d been holding up a sign at the Dershowitz talk), giggled several times, although I didn’t see anything especially humorous about, say, being told that I was an idol worshipper. But I guess there’s no accounting for taste, especially when it comes to mockery of Yahoodis. Luckily, I know they were being merely anti-Zionist in their crude comments about me and not, perish the thought, anti-Semitic! I, for one, appreciate such subtle ideological distinctions, even in the course of having such spiteful looks and comments directed at me. Charming behavior, to be sure, and I can certainly see why any progressive, intelligent, open-minded person would want to jump on their bandwagon.
Not surprisingly, the “I want Palestine from the River to the Sea, from the River to the Sea” Palestinian guy who was at the ISM booth at the Community Festival back in June was standing right next to this guy the whole time this was happening. I’m pretty sure he recognized me, but I didn’t say anything to him, and he didn’t open his mouth. This was the fellow I told you about, who explained to me that every Israeli is a military reservist, and that most of the people who ride public buses in Israel are military reservists, and that no Israeli school kids have even been killed on bombed buses. Last night, he was wearing a Palestinian flag tied around his shoulders, as a cape. Only problem was that it was too long for him, and the bottom few inches were dragging along the ground and getting under his shoes, which had really sullied the bottom of the flag. I guess using his flag for a cape didn’t bother him, much less walking on it and getting it dirty. Whatever. If he’d opened his mouth, I was going to ask him if he’d looked up Abigail Leitner, since back in June he’d never heard of her.
There were some other “bombs of filth” spit at me during the course of this conversation, if it can even be called that. I wrote it all down right after it happened, while it was all still fresh (rotten, actually) in my mind. I’ll send you a more updated version when I type it all up. (“Do you know what 'Kufr' means, man?” Uh, yeah.) I was stunned during this little display of malevolence and spitefulness being directed at me--I had just walked in, I’d just gotten there, and already I’d had Yahoodi-Yahoodi thrown at me (behind my back, of course)—but now a few hours later, having collected my thoughts about it and replayed it in my mind, I'm just saddened and angry. How utterly worthless and repugnant.
I'll keep you updated, although I'm not sure if I'll be going back to this pathetic excuse of a conference tomorrow or Sunday. Not because I was intimidated, to be sure, as I wasn't--disgusted and sickened, and caught off guard, sure--but because from what I saw tonight the conference is an utter waste of time and offers nothing of any remote positive worth. The whole thing is a crock is a shit, more so than I even expected--you would not believe some of the dribble and nonsense some of the speakers were retching up. Well, actually, you probably would, as it was all so cliched and tendentious and predictable, although seeing it in person rather than reading about it really gives an appreciation for the depths and intensity of such anti-Israel fervor, as hollow as it is. Anyway, the people organizing this gratuitous, boorish stunt forfeited their credibility a while back. Life is just too short.
On a positive note, I did learn tonight that this movement and the people behind are almost entirely all bluster, which I suppose is one reason they're so loud and vehement. (And there’s almost a sort of erotic tinge or quality to it. Perhaps that’s not the exact word for it, but it just seemed that people were enjoying a sort of pleasure hearing and talking about how awful Israel is. I was watching one woman across from me, and she was just glowing. Let me think about that one some more.) It’s all rather self-indulgent, and makes for nice group displays of mutual self-righteousness and validation, but on paper (I’m reading over my notes) the same language looks really… lame. Alan Dershowitz should have his house bulldozed? It’s a good rallying cry, but grow up, already. I'm very glad to know all this, as now I know these folks are not worth wasting an iota of concern or worry on. Just because these folks have a big presence on the Internet, for example, doesn’t mean they have any comparable presence in the real world. To paraphrase Shakespeare, theirs is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Less than nothing, in fact, because this asinine conference will likely end up even further discrediting them and their cause, and bolstering support for Israel. These people manufacture so much support for Israel, while at the same time damaging and discrediting their own putative positions, you'd think they were ardent Zionists. (Hell, maybe at some repressed psychological level they are, and all this dippy anti-Zionist drivel is just a massive coping mechanism to keep their love for Israel repressed and suppressed. But I digress.) So I'll keep tabs on them, but only in the way one would keep tabs on cockroaches should they ever turn up in the kitchen. It's good to know where they are and to keep the light on them, but they're hardly important, except maybe to themselves. After all, people have been dealing with bugs for millennia.
Well, if Jean-Paul Sartre was right (and he wasn't) that a Jew isn’t a Jew until somebody else calls him one, then I guess tonight I was definitely a Jew. Or at least a Yahoodi.
Sorry for the rant, but it’s not everyday I get called a Yahoodi behind my back and then informed I’m not actually Jewish… And to think that some people have to live where this sort of garbage and dimwitted contempt are government policy.
I'll email you some more soon. Best,
Hey, folks. Since the OSU CJP is planning on making a stink of sorts over silly and refuted charges that Alan Dershowitz plagiarized large sections of his book “The Case for Israel,” I thought you might like to see an example of how CJP and their cohorts do business in regards to intellectual matters.
On the website (www.Palestineconference.com) for their upcoming conference at OSU, they display the following statement, attributed to Archbishop Desmond Tutu:
"I've been very distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us blacks in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about...The current divestment effort is the first, though certainly not the only, necessary move in that direction."
This is a nice, flashy quote (albeit self-contradictory, if you look at it closely), and the conference organizers get a lot of mileage out of it by including it atop almost section of their website.
Only problem is, Tutu never made this statement.
It’s a “forged” quotation, in both senses of the word, both fake and welded together from separate parts. The first part of the constructed quotation comes from a speech given by Tutu in Boston on April 13, 2002. This was a speech in which Tutu carped about that classic object of paranoia, “the Jewish lobby,” an ugly euphemism at best that Tutu managed to make even uglier by absurdly comparing it to Hitler and Stalin. It was hardly Tutu’s finest moment, to say the least, but such concerns are of little interest when it comes to stigmatizing Israel, even when such efforts mean further misrepresenting Tutu’s own poorly chosen words.
The latter part of the constructed quotation (…after the tell-tale ellipsis) comes not from the same speech or any other speech but from an essay Tutu later co-authored (with Ian Urbina), from June 2, 2002, over seven weeks after he'd made the above comments in Boston.
Basically, what they’ve done is taken two Tutu quotations—two sentences from a speech by Tutu, and one sentence from an essay co-authored by Tutu and someone else—and slyly merged them so that the disparate sentences, taken from two completely different sources, appear--voila!--as a single quotation. Nice try. This is rhetorical quackery and intellectual dishonesty, pure and simple, yet this “quotation” is featured throughout the website for the Palestine Solidarity Movement’s conference. To say the least, this sort of Orwellian subterfuge disqualifies them from flinging reckless and false accusations of academic misconduct at other people. Yet nonetheless they plan to falsely charge a guest of the university with the sort of pseudo-scholarship they themselves openly practice. It’s almost funny, but so it goes….
That's the email. As you can see, they've still got the bogus quote plastered all over their webpage. Because of Orwellian garbage like this, I've learned that whenever Solidarity people and their ilk retch up this sort of quotation it's best to check it against the original, because invariably the original quote offers a different context, to say the least. This forged quote is but one example of how these folks do business, but in a nutshell, that's the solidarity movement for you.
Here's my first update on the conference:
I attended the "Towards A Global Intifada" panel session on Friday evening, and it looks like the conference is shaping up to be a colossal bomb. The session was supposed to begin at 6pm, but didn’t start until around 7:15pm. I guess keeping solidarity with a published schedule is too much for them. Anyway, I would estimate that maybe 200 people showed up, 250 max. Quite frankly, that’s pathetic. Last week, in the same building, Alan Dershowitz drew over 1200, and people had to pay to see him, whereas tonight’s session was free. On a campus with over 50,000 students, in a city with a population of over 700,000, on a perfectly clear night (a little chilly, but it's November) that sort of turnout for an event that’s been hyped and hyped and hyped for months in media outlets throughout the world is just… sad.
Towards the end of the discussion, one of the audience members directed a question to the rest of the audience. “How many of you here tonight,” he asked excitedly, “will go to your city councils and DEMAND they pass resolutions calling for divestment from Israel?!”
A few hands slowly raised, and he counted them off.
“ONE, TWO….three…uh...four, five…uh…six…seven…”
Touchdown! Go Bucks!
Yessirree, that divestment campaign is really rolling… talk about a groundswell of support. Global Intifada: Not Coming To A Globe Near You Anytime Soon.